Bioenergy Technologies Office Quarterly Newsletter

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Bioenergy Technologies Office

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November 2, 2021

BETO Quarterly Newsletter: Updates on the Bioeconomy


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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) is excited to deliver the latest edition of its newsletter. 

About the Bioenergy Technologies Office

BETO supports RD&D to enable the sustainable use of domestic biomass and waste resources for the production of biofuels and bioproducts. BETO’s overall goals are designed to:

  • Lower the cost and reduce technology risks for the production of biofuels and bioproducts
  • Improve the environmental benefits of bioenergy production
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation, industrial, and agricultural sectors to address the climate crisis
  • Support the scale-up of sustainable, low-carbon biofuel production technologies
  • Create economic opportunities and good paying jobs in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors.

Meeting these goals requires significant and rapid advances in technology development and innovation across the entire biomass-to-bioenergy supply chain.

Read about the impact BETO has on the bioeconomy and follow the hashtags #bioenergy and #bioeconomy on social media.

This edition of the BETO newsletter includes:


Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOA)

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New Notice of Intent for the Scale-Up of Biofuel and Bioproduct Refineries Award

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) has published a notice of intent to issue a second Scale-Up FOA. This FOA, funded by BETO, will aim to accelerate the scale-up of biofuel and bioproduct biorefineries. This includes efforts for pre-pilot, pilot, and demonstration scale projects and will allow for both projects that are in the planning phase as well as those that already have a design package and are ready to construct.

Learn more about BETO funding opportunities

DOE Awards $127 Million to Bring Innovative Clean Energy Technologies to Market

DOE EERE will award $57 million to 53 projects by 51 American small businesses and entrepreneurs with phase II funding based on the initial success of their phase I awards. This includes follow-on awards to support projects closer to market.

Through DOE’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, the phase II awards support the research and development of innovative clean energy technologies toward commercialization. EERE phase II awards are awarded for a two-year project duration, with initial funding up to $1.1 million, and two potential follow-on awards of up to $1.1 million each.

There were six projects funded through BETO:

  • Near Infrared Biomass Probe and Deployment Methods for Real-time, Field-based, Biomass Quality Measurement by ANTARES Group Inc. in Edgewater, MD
  • Conversion of Biogas to Liquid Fuels on Superior Catalysts by NexTech Materials, Ltd. Dba Nexceris, LLC in Lewis Center, OH
  • Removing Ammonia Contamination from Biogas Feedstock by Pancopia, Inc. in Hampton, VA
  • Biorecovery of Nutrients from Municipal Wastewaters with Co-production of Biofuels and other Bioproducts by MicroBio Engineering in San Luis Obispo, CA
  • Advancing Optical Imaging and Classification to Enhance Biodiversity Monitoring by OceanSpace, LLC in St. Petersburg, FL
  • Upcycling Ocean-based Plastics for Sustainable Feedstock Supply Chain by RiKarbon, Inc. in Newark, DE.

Learn more about the project selections.

Single-Use Plastic Recycling (SUPR) Funding Opportunity Announcement

DOE announced an investment of up to $15.5 million for research and development to cut waste and reduce the energy used to recycle single-use plastics like plastic bags, wraps, and films. This funding, directed toward plastics recycling technologies, advances DOE’s work to address the challenges of plastic waste recycling and support the Biden Administration’s efforts to build a clean energy economy and ensure the U.S. reaches net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Topic areas include:

Novel Approaches to Recycle and Upcycle Films

  • Applications are sought to develop novel degradation, upcycling and/or recycling pathways for post-consumer films.

Redesign of Multi-layer Films for Infinite Recyclability or Biodegradability

  • Multi-layered films are often used to achieve a multitude of properties that are difficult to achieve with a single component. This topic seeks new materials that are infinitely recyclable or biodegradable and meet all the required properties to replace multi-layered films.

As part of the application, applicants are required to describe how diversity, equity, and inclusion objectives will be incorporated in the project.

Applications are now under review. Learn more about the topics on BETO’s website.


Latest BETO Technical Reports

Front cover of Co-Optima Top 13 Blendstocks report

Top 13 Blendstocks Derived from Biomass for Mixing-Controlled Compression-Ignition (Diesel) Engines: Bioblendstocks with Potential for Decreased Emissions and Improved Operability

A new Co-Optimization of Fuels & Engines (Co-Optima) initiative report identifies the top 13 blendstocks created from waste or biomass for use in diesel fuel that could not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions but could lower the total cost of ownership of diesel vehicles. The benefits stem from three key areas of improvement across diesel system operations:

  • Less soot in engines, which reduces the complexity and expense of emissions control systems
  • Improved hardiness in cold weather, with which some biodiesel engines struggle
  • Higher cetane number, which eases blending into fuel refinery processes.

Download the Co-Optima report.


Consortia Update

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The Chemical Catalysis for Bioenergy Consortium (ChemCatBio) recently released their fall 2021 newsletter, The Accelerator, featuring topics such as:

  • New Catalyst Property Database
  • Recent renewable jet fuel research
  • New State of Technology Report on Ex Situ Catalytic Fast Pyrolysis of Biomass.

Read the full ChemCatBio newsletter


National Laboratory Success Stories

NREL research scientist in the lab

NREL researchers invented an easy method to measure the amount of cellulose in corn grain samples, helping ethanol refiners unlock incentives to investment. Photo courtesy of Dennis Schroeder, NREL.

Is It Starch or Cellulose? NREL Offers Answers That Could Unlock Incentives for Making Cellulosic Ethanol

Federal incentives can help ethanol refiners expand their plants into next generation biorefineries designed to make ethanol from both the cellulose and starch sugars found in corn grain. To apply for such support, however, biorefiners need a robust but simple analytical process for measuring the amount of cellulose in their grain.

With support from BETO, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) scientists have unveiled a new analytical method to give companies an unprecedented level of ease and precision. By completely removing starch from grain samples using special enzymes, NREL’s method sidesteps inaccuracies present in current analytical methods.

Get the scoop on NREL’s new procedure and how it could help boost production of low-carbon cellulosic ethanol on Bioprose: Bioenergy R&D Blog.

Anchors Aweigh: Examining Biofuels for Maritime Shipping

A multi-laboratory team of scientists led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is studying the feasibility of using energy-dense biofuels such as biocrude and bio-oil to meet new emissions regulations for cargo ships.

There is keen interest in the shipping community to learn more about the emissions reduction potential, compatibility, sustainability, and economics of using biofuels. In response, BETO and researchers from ORNL, Argonne National Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have teamed up to provide scientific data and analysis to inform stakeholder decision-making.

Read the full Bioprose: Bioenergy R&D Blog.


Upcoming and Past BETO Events

Learn more about upcoming BETO events on the events calendar. See below for  information on upcoming and past events. 

Upcoming Events

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Webinar: Community Waste Management Technical Assistance Forum–Exploring Solutions to Convert Waste to Energy and BioproductsNovember 4, 2021, 1–2 p.m. ET

As communities work to reduce their emissions, many are exploring solutions to not only cut down on waste but to convert it to energy and other products.

In 2021, BETO and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) provided technical assistance to 18 communities across the United States. Over the past several months, these partnerships explored a multitude of topics in conjunction with NREL experts, including resource assessment, economic trade-off analysis, technology evaluation, and many others.

BETO is hosting a forum with a panel of community experts involved in the partnerships to share updates about the program and plans for further technical assistance in 2022. The BETO forum will include a series of presentations from several partnering communities, followed by a Q&A session to hear about how various communities are looking to tackle their organic waste challenges and how NREL can aid in this planning.

Conference: 2021 Alternative Fuels and Chemicals Coalition Global Bio-Based Economy; October 27–29, 2021

Multiple unconventional combustion concepts offer substantial improvements in engine thermal efficiency. This webinar examines how changes to the composition and properties of future fuels could enable approaches such as multimode operation of light-duty spark-ignition gasoline engines and advanced compression ignition operation of medium-duty and heavy-duty engines.

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Past Events

Conference: 2021 Advanced Bioeconomy Leadership ConferenceOctober 27–29, 2021

DOE EERE BETO presenters:

  • Keynote address: Kelly Speakes-Backman, DOE EERE Acting Assistant Secretary
  • Advanced Biofuels Summit; Jim Spaeth, BETO Program Manager, Systems Development & Integration
  • Hot Technologies Panel; Jay Fitzgerald, BETO Chief Scientist discussed “DOE’s BOTTLE Consortium: Changing the Way We Recycle”
  • Hot Technologies Panel; Beau Hoffman, BETO Technology Manager discussed “RNG and the SoCalGas/Electrochaea.”

Webinars

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Webinar: How DOE Is Supporting Small Businesses to Strengthen Community Partnerships and Workforce Development; October 21, 2021

DOE’s BETO, Office of Technology Transitions (OTT), and SBIR/STTR programs provided a webinar to learn how DOE is working to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) through the SBIR/STTR programs. Panelist discussions included an overview of the SBIR/STTR Programs and how to get involved; SBIR-wide efforts to increase DEI; SBIR Enhancement Effort; the recent DOE SBIR/STTR Programs, Phase II awards; award impact experienced by local community workforce development partnerships.

Co-Optima Capstone Webinars: Co-Optimization of Fuels & Engines past, present, and future. What did we learn and where do we go next?; September 30, 2021

New Co-Optima knowledge and tools point the way to cleaner, more efficient engines. This webinar looked at the initiative’s accomplishments in the broader context of what might come next for internal combustion engine research in a rapidly changing world, factoring in increased vehicle electrification and a pressing need to reduce the carbon intensity of transportation.

Webinar: How ABPDU Is Training the Next Generation of Bioprocess Engineers; September 16, 2021

BETO hosted a webinar on how Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) is partnering with the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) to train the next generation of bioprocessing engineers to enable the U.S. bioeconomy. A new college course taking place at LBNL’s Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts Process Development Unit (ABPDU) aims to meet this need by providing students with hands-on experience with industry-relevant bioprocessing equipment.

Webinar: Sustainable Aviation Fuel Strategy at the Bioenergy Technologies Office; August 26, 2021

BETO hosted this webinar featuring Dr. Valerie Sarisky-Reed, acting director of BETO and Zia Haq, senior analyst at BETO. Topics discussed during this webinar included types of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) feedstocks; benefits of SAF to farmers, the environment, and the aviation industry; job creation potential of SAF; BETO research, development, and demonstration on SAF technologies.

Co-Optima Capstone Webinar: What unconventional engine-fuel combinations show the greatest promise for efficiency improvements beyond current LD/MD/HD technologies?; August 26, 2021

Multiple unconventional combustion concepts offer substantial improvements in engine thermal efficiency. This webinar examined how changes to the composition and properties of future fuels could enable approaches such as multimode operation of LD SI gasoline engines and advanced compression ignition operation of MD and HD engines.

 

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