US DOE opens $15 million bio-oil funding opportunity

By Erin Voegele | April 18, 2012

The U.S. DOE is making up to $15 million in funding available to demonstrate biomass-based oil precursors for renewable transportation fuels. These bio-oils are essentially biobased crude that can be integrated into the oil refining process to produce conventional gas, diesel and jet fuels.

According to the DOE, it expects to fund between five and 10 projects during fiscal year 2012 through this round of funding. Applicable projects will produce bio-oil prototypes that can be tested in oil refineries and used to develop comprehensive technical and economic analyses of how bio-oils can work. In the funding announcement, the DOE also notes that the prototype bio-oils will be produced from a range of feedstocks that may include algae, corn stover and wheat residue, dedicated energy crops or wood residues.

Application information published by the DOE notes that it anticipates both grants and cooperative agreements will be awarded under the program announcement. The maximum amount for an individual award made under the announcement is $1 million, while the minimum award amount is $400,000.

Awards will be made under two topic areas. Topic Area 1 applicants are not required to have a petroleum refinery partner at the time of the application, but engaging a petroleum refinery partner by the end of the project period is key project deliverable. Topic Area 2 applicants are required to have a petroleum refinery partner secured at the time of the application. A key deliverable of a Topic Area 2 project is an engineering/design package for a future pilot-scale facility. The DOE expects to make five or six awards under the first topic area, and three or four under the second.

“The Energy Department’s investments to develop renewable transportation fuels are a key part of the Obama Administration’s all-of-the-above energy strategy to develop America’s domestic energy resources and reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “Driving innovation through targeted investments helps to speed development of next-generation biofuels made in America, biofuels that will help to protect American families and businesses from the ups and downs of the global oil market.”

Domestic industry, universities and laboratories are all eligible to apply for this funding opportunity. Letters of intent must be submitted by May 1. The deadline for full applications is May 29. Additional information on the opportunity can be found on the DOE website