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When it comes to advanced energy technology, we can literally grow our own. Bioenergy’s great potential for plant-based fuels, bio-products and bio-power loom as both an opportunity and an advantage for the U.S. Advanced research on bio-based substitutes for crude oil, gasoline, diesel fuel and aviation fuel also offer promise to change the energy equation.

The U.S. Department of Energy is providing vouchers to small businesses for projects to develop and transform our renewable biomass resources into commercially viable, high-performance biofuels, bioproducts, and biopower in these voucher opportunity areas:

Algal Feedstocks R&D

Voucher opportunity areas for Algal Feedstocks R&D are primarily focused in two main thrusts:

  • Production: The production component of the supply system includes both resource assessment and technology development. Production technology development focuses on algal biomass development and characterization, cultivation system technologies, and nutrient supply systems.
  • Logistics: The downstream processing of cultivated algal biomass takes place in the logistics components of the system, which include harvest, preprocessing, and transport of processed biofuel intermediates to the conversion facility. Logistics also encompasses co-products and residual processing, as well as resource recapture and recycle.

Algal biomass includes micro- and macro-algae, as well as cyanobacteria. Algal biofuel intermediates include extracted lipids, lipid-extracted biomass, or bio-oil resulting from hydrothermal liquefaction.

Analysis and Sustainability

Voucher opportunities are available in the areas of Analysis and Sustainability. These activities interface with and impact all elements of the biomass-to bioenergy supply chain and each stage of technology development. Techno-economic analysis (TEA) and life-cycle assessment (LCA) not only to determine the cost and carbon footprint of the resulting products, but also to identify the portions of the process that provide the greatest leverage point for R&D.

Conversion R&D

Conversion R&D is focused on developing commercially viable technologies for converting biomass feedstocks via biological and chemical routes into energy-dense, fungible, finished liquid transportation fuels such as renewable gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel, as well as bioproducts or chemical intermediates and biopower. Voucher opportunity areas for Conversion R&D are primarily focused in two main thrusts:

  • Deconstruction and Fractionation: This includes processes such as pyrolysis, hydrothermal and solvent liquefaction, and gasification, enzymatic and acid hydrolysis.
  • Synthesis and Upgrading: Intermediates can include crude bio-oils, gaseous mixtures such as syngas, sugars, and other chemical building blocks. These intermediates are upgraded via chemical and/or biological routes to produce a finished product. These finished products could be fuels or bioproducts ready to sell into the commercial market, or could be stabilized intermediates suitable for finishing in a petroleum refinery or chemical manufacturing plant.

Terrestrial Feedstock Logistics (FSL) R&D

Voucher opportunity areas for Terrestrial FSL R&D are primarily focused in two main thrusts:

  • Supply: Supply includes assessing the potential availability and quality of biomass resources, as well as the production of biomass to demonstrate crop performance and estimate production costs under a variety of real-world conditions.
  • Feedstock Logistics: Feedstock logistics refers to all of the operations that occur after the biomass is produced and is standing in a field or forest ready for harvest and before it is introduced into the conversion in-feed system (also referred to as the “reactor throat”).

Terrestrial feedstocks include lignocellulosic feedstocks such as agricultural residues, forest resources residues, dedicated energy crops, select municipal solid waste (MSW) fractions, biogas from agricultural and landfills, and certain “wet” industrial wastestreams.