DOE awards $75 million to 35 bioenergy R&D projects

By Erin Voegele | October 02, 2019

The U.S. Department of Energy announced Oct. 1 it is awarding $73 million to 35 bioenergy research and development projects that aims to reduce the price of drop-in biofuels, lower the cost of biopower and enable the production of high-value products from biomass or waste resources.

“The main goal of DOE’s bioenergy R&D is to produce affordable biofuels that are compatible with existing fueling infrastructure and vehicles across a range of transportation modes, including renewable-gasoline, -diesel, and -jet fuels,” said Energy Secretary Rick Perry. “These projects will reduce the price of drop-in biofuels, lower the cost of biopower, and enable high-value products from biomass or waste resources, while creating American jobs and strengthening our economy and energy security.”

According to the DOE, the U.S. has the potential to produce 1 billion dry tons of non-food biomass without disrupting agricultural markets for food and animal feed. The agency said this underutilized domestic resource could be used to produce 50 billion gallons of biofuels, which is equivalent to approximately 25 percent of U.S. transportation fuel; 50 billion pounds of high-value chemicals and products; and 75 billion kilowatt hours of electricity, which is enough to power 7 million homes.

The 35 bioenergy projects selected for funding fall under 10 main topic areas. A total of five projects were awarded a combined $19.65 million in funding under topic area one, which focuses on cultivation intensification processes for algae. The DOE funded seven projects under topic area two, biomass component variability and feedstock conversion interface, with a combined $8.61 million. The agency awarded a combined $3.01 million to three projects under topic area three, which focuses on efficient wood heaters. Under topic area four, systems research of advanced hydrocarbon biofuel technologies, the DOE selected four projects to receive a combined $8 million. Three projects were selected for funding under topic area five, the optimization of bio-derived jet fuel blends, and received a combined $5 million. Only one project was selected under topic area six, which focuses on renewable energy from urban and suburban waste. That project was awarded $5.07 million. The DOE selected four projects under topic area seven, advanced bioprocessing and agile biofoundry, awarding them a combined $8.86 million. Four projects were also selected under topic area eight, bioplastics in the circular carbon economy. Those four projects were awarded a combined $7.61 million. The agency selected two projects under topic area nine, rethinking anaerobic digestion, awarding them a combined $5.13 million. Finally, two projects were selected under topic area 10, reducing water, energy and emissions in bioenergy. Those two projects were awarded a combined $2 million.

A full list of awards is available on the DOE website