DOE’s Industrial Decarbonization Roadmap addresses bioenergy

By Erin Voegele | September 08, 2022

The industrial sector is among the most difficult to decarbonize. An Industrial Decarbonization Roadmap released by the U.S. Department of Energy on Sept. 7 identifies four key pathways to reduce industrial emissions from American manufacturing, including through the use of biofuels, biobased feedstocks and carbon capture and storage (CCS). The agency also announced a $104 million funding opportunity to advance industrial decarbonization technologies.  

According to the DOE, the Industrial Decarbonization Roadmap emphasizes the urgency of dramatically cutting carbon emissions and pollution from the industrial sector. It also presents a staged research, development and demonstration (RD&D) agenda for industry and government.

The DOE estimates that the industrial sector accounted for approximately one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions last year—more than the annual emissions of 631 million gasoline-fueled passenger vehicles.

The roadmap specifically focuses on five energy-intensive sectors where industrial decarbonization efforts can have the greatest impact, including iron and steel; cement and concrete; food and beverage; chemical manufacturing; and petroleum refining. The four key pathways to reduce industrial emissions include energy efficiency; industrial electrification; the use of low carbon fuels, feedstocks and energy sources (LCFFES); and carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS).

The LCFFES pathway focuses on substituting low- and no-carbon fuel and feedstocks to reduce combustion-associated emissions for industrial processes. This includes the development of fuel-flexible processes; the integration of hydrogen fuels and feedstocks into industrial applications; and the use of biofuels and biobased feedstocks.

Regarding CCUS technologies, the roadmap specifically identifies ethanol plants as among the lowest cost industrial facilities for the implementation of CCS. The report indicates the 210 ethanol plants located in the U.S. emit approximately 32 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. An estimated 27 million metric tons of that carbon dioxide could be captured via CCUS technologies, according to the DOE, at a cost of $17.60 to $33.40 per metric ton, with an average price of $27 per metric ton. In addition, the report shows that ethanol plants already account for 41 of the 104 U.S. industrial facilities currently capturing commercial carbon dioxide.

The $104 million funding opportunity (FOA) announcement issued by the DOE focuses on six topic areas, including technologies to decarbonize chemicals; decarbonize iron and steel; decarbonize food and beverage products; decarbonize cement and concrete; decarbonize paper and forest products; and cross-sector decarbonization technologies. The FOA specifically addresses the use of low carbon fuels, including biomass/biofuels and waste or refuse-derived fuels, as a way to decarbonize cement and concrete production. Concept papers for the FOA are due Oct. 12, with full applications due Dec. 20.

Additional information, including full copies of the roadmap and FOA, are available on the DOE website