BETO launches new Feedstock-Conversion Interface Consortium

By U.S. Department of Energy | November 30, 2017

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office is proud to announce the establishment of the Feedstock-Conversion Interface Consortium—a research and development consortium dedicated to identifying and overcoming technical uncertainty in research and development of robust biomass supply, preprocessing, and conversion technologies. 

The goal of the consortium is to improve the overall operational reliability of integrated biorefineries (IBRs). BETO has identified inconsistent feeding, handling, and initial conversion operations at IBRs as limiting factors in the conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to fuels and chemicals. IBR development and operation have suffered from failure to account for the complexity and variability of feedstock properties and composition and from a lack of fundamental understanding of the physics and chemistry of biomass-derived feedstock preprocessing and subsequent deconstruction, combined with poor equipment design and flawed integration. Solving this significant current challenge is essential for advanced biofuels to fully reach their potential and for the economic benefits of new jobs and improved security of our fuel supply to be realized. 

FCIC will address the operational reliability challenges that are relevant to industry through a concerted coordination of research efforts among eight national laboratories. This strategic coordination of national laboratory expertise and equipment will increase innovation and accelerate advancements in technology that will be beneficial to the emerging U.S. bioeconomy and to BETO’s goals, as shown in the BETO Multi-Year Program Plan

FCIC is led by Idaho National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Other national laboratories included in the consortium are Argonne National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories. In addition to a leadership team and a technical advisory board composed of industrial and academic stakeholders, FCIC is made up of the following five technical and analysis teams: (1) Feedstock Variability and Specification Development, (2) Feedstock Physical Performance Modeling, (3) Process Integration, (4) System-Wide Throughput Analysis, and (5) Process Control and Optimization. 

FCIC will be officially launched with a kickoff meeting on Dec. 11 at NREL, where BETO will provide industry and academic stakeholders with a summary of the consortium’s intended research and development efforts, primary focus areas, and target goals. Attendees will also review the FCIC portfolio and research direction and provide valuable inputs and recommendations to ensure the FCIC is focused on solving impactful, industry-relevant problems.

FCIC is part of BETO’s Feedstock Supply and Logistics ProgramConversion Research and Development Program, and Advanced Development and Optimization Program, which together fund projects to (1) develop economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable feedstocks for conversion to bioenergy; (2) develop technologies for converting lignocellulosic feedstocks into viable biofuels and bioproducts; and (3) reduce bioenergy production technology uncertainties. These efforts will help the United States move toward an affordable and resilient bioeconomy. For more information, visit the FCIC website.