DOE to open FOAs for integrated biorefineries, algae biofuels

By Erin Voegele | December 09, 2016

In early December, the U.S. Department of Energy announced plans to open two biofuel-related funding opportunities. One is focused on the optimization of integrated biorefineries, while the other is focused on algae-based fuels.

On Dec. 1, the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy announced on behalf of the Bioenergy Technologies Office that it intends to issue a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) for up to $8 million, subject to appropriations, to support the development of algae-based biofuels.

The FOA, titled “Productivity Enhanced Algae and Tool Kits (PEAK),” aims to support innovative technologies and approaches to help advance bioenergy and bioproducts from algae. The EERE said selected projects will support the development of cost-competitive biofuels from algae by focusing on breakthroughs in advanced biology, as well as biology-based tools to improve algae cultivation productivity. The EERE also noted selected projects will accelerate future innovations through data sharing within the research and development community.

In addition, the EERE said the algae FOA will focus on biological variables that contribute to the modeled minimum fuel selling prices of algal biofuels and will use innovative technologies to help deliver strains, tools, data and techniques to enhance algal biofuel potential.

Less than a week later, on Dec. 5, the EERE announced plans to issue another FOA on behalf of the BETO and the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The FOA, titled “Integrated Biorefinery Optimization,” aims to support research and development to increase the performance efficiencies of biorefineries resulting in continuous operation and production of biofuels, bioproducts, and biopower at prices competitive with fossil-derived equivalents. “This could be accomplished by improvements in ensuring reliable, continuous, robust handling and feeding of solid materials into reactors under various operating conditions; decreased capital and operating expenses by improved separation processes; production of higher-value products from waste or other undervalued streams; and analytical modeling of handling and feeding of solid materials into reactors,” said the EERE.

According to the EERE, projects that address these challenges and convert woody biomass, agricultural residues, dedicated energy crops, algae, municipal solid waste, sludge from wastewater treatment plants, and wet wastes into biofuels, biochemicals, and bioproducts will be considered under the FOA. The EERE also noted the biorefinery FOA is expected to be posted to the EERE Exchange website in December.