DOE launches Clean Fuels & Products Shot

By Erin Voegele | May 24, 2023

The U.S. Department of Energy on May 24 launched the Clean Fuels & Products Shot, which aims to significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from carbon-based fuels, including though the increased use of biomass and waste feedstocks. The initiative is the seventh component of the agency’s Energy Earthshot program.

The Energy Earthshots program aims to accelerate breakthroughs of more abundant, affordable and reliable clean energy solutions within the decade. These breakthroughs are needed to drive innovation needed to solve the climate crisis, reach 2050 net-zero carbon goals and create new clean energy jobs.

Previously announced components of the Energy Earthshot program includes those dedicated to clean hydrogen, long-duration power storage, atmospheric carbon dioxide removal, geothermal energy, floating offshore wind, and industrial heat.

The Clean Fuels & Products Shot focuses on reducing carbon emissions from the fuel and chemical industry through alternative, sustainable sources of carbon to achieve a minimum of 85 percent lower GHG emissions compared to fossil-based sources by 2035. The effort also aligns with the interagency Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge, the DOE said.

According to DOE, the newly launched initiative can help eliminate more than 650 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year by 2050. As part of the launch, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer M Granholm participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to launch Idaho Natural Laboratory’s newly expanded Biomass Feedstock National User Facility, a center for rapid technology development and large-scale commercialization of biofuels and bioproducts. The $15 million upgrade began in 2020 and was funded by DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office. The BFNUF will be a critical component of the Clean Fuels & Products Shot efforts, the agency said.

The Clean Fuels & Products Shot has the potential to meet significant portion of projected fuel demands in 2050 using sustainable carbon resources, including 100 percent of aviation fuel, 50 percent of maritime fuel, 50 percent of off-road fuel and 50-percent of carbon-based chemicals.

As part of the effort, DOE has identified five critical research areas to decarbonize the fuels and chemicals industries, including those focused on mobilizing biomass and waste feedstock, efficiently capturing and converting carbon dioxide, developing carbon-efficient conversion processes, demonstrating integrated processes, and understanding sustainability implications. Regarding biomass, DOE indicated there is a need for new technologies that enable low-cost, low-emissions feedstocks at scale, along with enabling increased carbon incorporation into biomass.

The DOE estimates that 1.05 billion metric tons of biomass and waste combined with 450 million metric tons of carbon dioxide could be converted into more than 400 million metric tons of fuels and chemicals by 2050. Overall, the agency said the Clean Fuels & Products Shot could eliminate more than 650 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year.

Additional information on the Clean Fuels & Products Shot is available on the DOE website