DOE opens bio-oil funding opportunity

By Erin Voegele | December 26, 2012

The U.S. DOE has opened up a funding opportunity for bio-oil research activities. The funding opportunity announcement (FOA) focuses focused on three barriers to bio-oil production that have been repeatedly identified, including carbon efficiency, hydrogen efficiency and separations efficiency. With regard to carbon efficiency, the goal is to develop selective fractionation and separation systems in bio-oil processing. For the goal of hydrogen efficiency, the funding opportunity aims to improve hydrogen production, use and transfer in biomass liquefaction and bio-oil upgrading. Under the category of separations efficiency, the goal is to develop technologies for use and mitigation of the aqueous fraction of bio-oil.

The FOA aims to address research and development challenges that were identified during a stakeholder workshop held in Dec. 2011, titled “Conversion Technologies for Advanced Biofuels,” and from a request for information (RFI) conducted in Nov. 2012. According to the DOE, the FOA focuses on moving knowledge and understanding of basic or fundamental principles observed at technical readiness level (TRL) one into practical, applied research and development at TRLs two or three, or beyond.

Information published by the DOE notes that the results of the experimental data produced through this research should validate the researcher’s analytical predictions and lead to inventions or innovations that help overcome technical barriers to improve yields or the economic feasibility of producing biofuels via thermochemical, direct liquefaction pathways. These pathways include fast pyrolysis, catalytic fast pyrolysis, hydropyrolysis, hydrothermal liquefaction, and solvent liquefaction.

According to the DOE’s FOA, successful applicants will provide a research and development work-plan to address the technical barriers that need to be overcome to produce a biobased hydrocarbon fuel at $3 per gallon or less, on a gasoline equivalent basis. Successful applications will also demonstrate the potential to transfer findings to the pilot- and demonstration-scale.

The FOA states that three to five awards are expected to be made by the DOE under this funding opportunity, each in the $3 million range. Up to $12 million is expected to be available for the FOA. The deadline to submit concept papers is Jan. 13, 2013. Full applications must be submitted by Feb. 13, 2013.

Additional information on the FOA, “DE-FOA-0000812: Carbon Hydrogen, and Separation Efficiencies in Bio-Oil Conversion Pathways (Chase Bio-Oil Pathways)” is available on the DOE’s Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Funding Opportunity Exchange website