DOE to issue funding opportunity for aviation, advanced biofuels

By Erin Voegele | March 18, 2021

The U.S. Department of Energy on March 10 announced its intent to issue a funding opportunity this spring that aims to accelerate the production of low-carbon aviation fuels, renewable marine fuels, and other advanced biofuels.  

According to the DOE, its Bioenergy Technologies Office is focused on applied research, development, demonstration and deployment (RDD&D) to improve the performance and reduce costs of biofuel production technologies and scale-up production systems in partnership with industry in order to reduce risks and pave the way for deployment of commercial-scale integrated biorefineries. The agency said working together on scaling up these emerging technologies will leverage the scientific strength of the agency and its partners and support the creation of construction, skilled trade and engineering jobs that grow an invigorate the bioeconomy.

The program is focused on developing and demonstrating technologies that are capable of producing low-carbon, drop-in biofuels at $2.50 per gallon gasoline equivalent (GEE) by 2030, as well as associated renewable chemical co-products to achieve that target. The DOE also noted the BETO is focused on biofuel production pathways that can deliver at least 70 percent lower lifecycle greenhouse (GHG) missions than petroleum.

The notice of intent (NOI) describes five main topic areas the upcoming funding opportunity may address. The first is the scale-up of biotechnologies, including pre-pilot, pilot, and demonstration projects. Those projects could address the manufacture of sustainable aviation and marine fuels; carbon dioxide conversion, waste-to-energy or novel carbon conversion technologies; or novel process technologies that leverage existing first generation biorefinery assets and infrastructure.

The second topic area focuses on affordable, clean cellulosic sugars for high-yield conversion, while the third topic area focuses on separations to enable biomass conversions, and the fourth focuses on residential wood heaters.

The fifth topic area focuses on renewable natural gas (RNG), including support of research and development of new technologies for upgrading biogas and carbon dioxide/hydrogen to pipeline quality RNG and pilot-scale demonstration of next-generation biogas upgrading technologies.

The DOE is expected to issue an official funding opportunity announcement (FOA) in April. Additional information is available on the DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Exchange website