DOE awards $34 million to 11 MSW, algae feedstock projects

By Erin Voegele | August 03, 2021

The U.S. Department of Energy on Aug. 3 awarded nearly $34 million to 11 projects that will support research and development to improve and produce algae and municipal solid waste (MSW) feedstocks for the production of biofuels, biopower and bioproducts.

The agency said transportation currently accounts for approximately 30 percent of total U.S. energy consumption and generates the largest share of the country’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Biofuels can lower GHG emissions and will play an important role in reaching the Biden administration’s goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, according to the DOE.

“From food waste to yard trimmings, biomass technology is converting our everyday trash into low-carbon fuel for planes and ships while cutting costs and supporting our critical transportation sector,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm. “The companies and universities leading these projects will ensure that our cutting-edge biofuel technologies reduce carbon emissions, create new jobs up and down the supply chain, and are made in America by American workers.”  

Approximately $15 million will go to five projects focused on MSW. The remaining $18.7 million will support six algae projects.

MSW projects include:

Cascadian Consulting Group: $3.13 million to support a statistically rigorous deep dive, nationwide characterization of MSW and related characterization of technologies that enable the production of conversion-ready feedstocks.

University of Maryland—College Park: $3.14 million to support the systematic characterization of variability in MSW streams to identify critical material attributes for fuel production.

Lehigh University: $2.81 million to support an integrated LIBS-Raman-AI system for real-time, in-situ chemical analysis of MSW streams.

North Carolina State University: $2.84 million for AI-enabled hyperspectral imaging augmented with multi-sensory information for rapid and real-time analysis of non-recyclable heterogeneous MSW for conversion to energy

AMP Robotics: $2.81 million for an artificial neural network for MSW contamination characterization.

Algae projects include:

University of California—San Diego: $3.2 million for the enhanced production of algae lipids and carbohydrates for fuel and polyurethane precursors.

Colorado State University: $3.2 million to support advancing algal productivity through innovation in cultivation operation and strain traits.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego: $2.76 million to support ecological monitoring technologies to enhance large-scale microalgae cultivation, stability and productivity.

Arizona State University: $3.2 million for direct air capture integration with algae carbon biocatalysis.

Global Algae Innovations Inc.: $3.2 million to support enhanced algae productivity in carbon dioxide direct air capture cultivation.

University of Toledo: $3.2 million to support minimizing organic carbon losses to improve net productivity in direct air capture cultivation.