Bioenergy Technologies Office Quarterly Newsletter

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Bioenergy Technologies Office

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February 28, 2022

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 research, development, and demonstration 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, #bioeconomy, and #BioenergyCuriosity on social media.

This edition of the BETO newsletter includes:


Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOA)

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DOE Announces $19 Million for Carbon Utilization Funding Opportunity

DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and the Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management’s Carbon Utilization Program announced up to $19 million in federal funding for the advancement of technologies that utilize waste carbon to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and produce reliable feedstocks for biotechnologies.

The FOA has two topic areas:

  • Topic Area 1: Carbon utilization efficiency from biomass- or atmospheric-based sources of CO2
  • Topic Area 2: Algae-based technology to utilize anthropogenic CO2 from utility and industrial sources.

Concept papers for this FOA are due by March 18, 2022 at 5 p.m. ET. Applications for this FOA are due by May 27, 2022 at 5 p.m. ET. For questions, email FY22CarbonUtilizationFOA@ee.doe.gov. View the full FOA on EERE Exchange or Grants.gov.

DOE Announces $13.4 Million Investment to Combat Plastic Waste and Reduce Emissions Across the Plastics Industry

DOE has awarded $13.4 million to seven projects for research and development of novel recycling processes and technologies that will cut plastic waste and reduce the energy consumption and carbon emissions of single-use plastics at every stage of their life cycle. These seven projects will work to develop affordable solutions for “upcycling,” or transforming plastic films into more valuable materials, and to design new plastics that are more recyclable and biodegradable – innovating both the processes of single-use plastics recycling, and the single-use plastics themselves.

Projects selected for negotiation were chosen from the following areas:

Novel Approaches to Recycle and Upcycle Films

  • Applications were 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 sought new materials that are infinitely recyclable or biodegradable and meet all the required properties to replace multi-layered films.

Learn more about the award winners on BETO’s website.


AlgaePrize Competition Announced

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Launched in January 2022, the AlgaePrize is a new competition from DOE BETO that encourages students to pursue innovative ideas for the development, design, and invention of technologies within the commercial algae value chain. Though this challenge, students will gain real-world science, technology, engineering, and mathematics experience, helping to develop the next generation of bioenergy professionals.

Fast-growing and able to store energy from sunlight, algae can be transformed into a variety of products, such as fuel, food, fertilizer, industrial compounds, and animal feed.

Learn more about the AlgaePrize and how to participate: energy.gov/AlgaePrize.


National Laboratory Success Stories

These are just a couple of examples of the latest national laboratory success stories housed on BETO’s Bioprose: Bioenergy R&D Blog. In addition to national lab success stories, the blog also hosts bioenergy research and scientific information demonstrating how BETO impacts the U.S. bioeconomy.

INL bioenergy research team addressing feedstock flowability challenges by modeling and testing.

The Idaho National Laboratory bioenergy research team addressing feedstock flowability challenges by modeling and testing. Photo courtesy of INL.


Idaho National Laboratory Researchers Investigate Loblolly Pine Flow Issues

Bioenergy researchers are always on the lookout for natural materials that can be used as biomass or bioproducts. As biomass processing becomes more efficient, the more economically competitive it becomes, and the easier it is for consumers to make environmentally conscious consumption choices.

Toward making this a reality, an Idaho National Laboratory (INL) research team has identified models that could help scale-up processing to industry scale at an economically low cost.

Read more about INL’s promising impact of loblolly pine residue on biorefineries at the Bioprose: Bioenergy R&D Blog.

GREET the Dawn of a New Day in Sustainable Aviation Fuels

On September 9, 2021, the White House issued a Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge to inspire an increase in the production of sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) to at least 3 billion gallons per year by 2030 and potentially to 35 billion gallons by 2050. By reducing costs, enhancing sustainability, and expanding production and use of SAFs, the aviation industry may be able to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half compared to conventional fuel.

Innovative thinkers at Argonne National Laboratory developed the Greenhouse gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in Technologies (GREET) model in the mid-1990s to evaluate and compare the energy and environmental impacts of various fuels and vehicles. They expanded GREET for SAF life cycle analysis in recent years, which will aid in the production of SAF to help meet the SAF Grand Challenge.

Read more about Argonne’s GREET model and the impact on the bioeconomy at 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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Advanced Bioeconomy Leadership Conference (ABLC) 2022; March 16–18, 2022

ABLC 2022 is a connected series of seven conferences and events on the most important issues in the circular bioeconomy right now.

The following people from BETO will speak at ABLC:

  • Dr. Valerie Sarisky-Reed, BETO Director, will moderate the Bioproducts Summit
  • Sonia Hammache, BETO Technology Manager, will moderate the Catalyst and Catalytic Upgrading Summit
  • Anne Otwell, AAAS Fellow at BETO, will moderate the Algae Summit
  • Ian Row, BETO Technology Manager, will moderate the CO2 Conversion Summit.

Wood Heater Design Challenge—Workshop 2: Advances in Instrumentation Used for Wood Heater Testing and Field Data Collection; March 28–29, 2022

The Wood Heater Design Challenge series of workshops will bring together stakeholders from across the world to discuss topics related to R&D advances in wood heater research, specifically related to residential heating. The purpose of the workshops is to engage leaders and engineers of the wood heater industry along with academics and other experts.

Workshop 2 will provide a forum to share information on more accessible methods for evaluating heaters’ thermal efficiency, pollution emissions, and wider impacts on public health and the environment.

Past Events

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Webinar: AlgaePrize Competition Office Hours; February 17, 2022

The organizers behind the AlgaePrize competition held an office hours event where students and teachers asked questions ahead of the March 2, 2022 submission deadline. The office hours moderators included:

  • Algae Foundation President and Board Chair, Dr. Ira (Ike) Levine
  • BETO, Advanced Algal Systems Program Technology Manager, Christy Sterner.

Webinar: Biomass Feedstock Supply Challenges and Solutions with Idaho National Laboratory; January 20, 2022

Biorefineries are emerging in the United States to help transform our waste and biomass feedstocks into renewable fuels and products. However, a lot has to go right throughout the feedstock supply chain so that these biofuels and bioproducts are cost-effective and of high-quality and -quantity compared to their petroleum-based counterparts.

DOE BETO held a webinar with Drs. Lynn Wendt, Bioenergy Program Lead, and Luke Williams, research scientist, at Idaho National Laboratory (INL) where they discussed feedstock supply chain challenges and how INL’s research is generating solutions.

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Webinar: Community Waste Management Technical Assistance Forum–Exploring Solutions to Convert Waste to Energy and Bioproducts; November 4, 2021

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, DOE 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 hosted a webinar 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.

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

DOE’s BETO, Office of Technology Transitions, and Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (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; and award impact experienced by local community workforce development partnerships.

 

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