DOE issues 4 funding opportunities totaling $78M for advanced biofuels, bioenergy and bioproducts

The US Department of Energy (DOE) issued four funding opportunities (FOAs) totaling up to $78 million to support early-stage bioenergy research and development under the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO). These include:

BioEnergy Engineering for Products Synthesis (BEEPS) (up to $28 million) (DE-FOA-0001916)

This FOA addresses gaps in current research and development (R&D) which hinder better utilizing waste streams (e.g. lignin, CO2, and biosolids), improving organic and inorganic catalysts to increase conversion efficiency and decrease costs, and creating high-value performance-advantaged bioproducts to allow for more profitable biorefineries. It contains six Topic Areas, each of which contains different specific areas of interest, required descriptions, and metrics.

Although products of particular interest vary by topic area, fuels with potential as jet or diesel replacements as well as fuels identified by DOE’s Co‐Optimization of Fuels and Engines (Co‐Optima) consortium are of particular interest.

Topic Area 1: ChemCatBio Industrial Partnerships. Virtually all technology pathways that convert biomass into a hydrocarbon fuel require a catalytic process. The high costs associated with these processes are one of several issues that plague the commercial viability of biofuels and bioproducts. Catalysts for bioenergy applications need to be inexpensive, robust, and not susceptible to poisoning by the multiple impurities found in biomass and intermediates, such as sulfur, nitrogen, alkali metals, etc.

Catalysis solutions from conventional processes do not always translate to bioenergy applications due to the high oxygen and moisture content of biomass feedstocks. Other pervasive challenges in catalysis for bioenergy include: developing catalysts with longer lifetimes, minimizing biogenic carbon loss to coke and aqueous waste streams, increasing fuel and product yield, and controlling product selectivity and branching.

The Chemical Catalysis for Bioenergy (ChemCatBio) consortium is a DOE National Laboratory‐led research and development consortium dedicated to identifying and overcoming catalysis challenges for biomass conversion processes. ChemCatBio features a network of capabilities in catalyst synthesis, characterization, and evaluation. Topic Area 1 will provide funding for collaborative projects between an applicant and ChemCatBio aimed at tackling fundamental challenges in catalysis for bioenergy.

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