The Bioenergy Technologies Office's biopower activities are focused on developing, optimizing, and demonstrating pretreatment and conversion technologies to enable the increased use of biomass for electricity generation to displace fossil fuel and reduce GHG emissions.

Selected biopower activities are described below:

Technical Information Exchange on Pyrolysis Oil Workshop

On May 9–10, 2012, the Bioenergy Technologies Office conducted a Technical Information Exchange Workshop to solicit inputs on the opportunities and challenges associated with the development and deployment of biomass derived home heating oil products for U.S. markets. The workshop featured presentations by technical experts from industry, academia, national laboratories, and government, and it facilitated discussions of technical and economic challenges, as well as research, development, and demonstration priorities. The workshop generated a wealth of information and ideas, and the Program will use the workshop results to inform its strategic planning and prioritizing of future research and development on pyrolysis oil.

Approximately 8 million households in the United States heat with oil; 6.2 million (about 78%) are located in the Northeast. Given this high reliance on fuel oil for residential heating, an affordable alternative would be particularly beneficial to this region. Pyrolysis oil derived from domestic biomass has been identified as one of the most promising alternatives for this market. However, we must overcome significant challenges to reliably produce an ample supply of pyrolysis oil that has the characteristics required for it to be a viable substitute for traditional heating oil.

Below are the agenda and presentations from this 2-day meeting:

In Feburary 2013, the Bioenergy Technologies Office published a full report on the results of this workshop:

Technology Research, Development, and Tools for Clean Biomass Cookstoves Funding Opportunity

In April 2012, the Energy Department announced a funding opportunity for applied research to advance clean biomass cookstove technologies for use in developing countries. The funding will support the development of innovative cookstove designs that allow users to burn wood or crop residues more efficiently and with less smoke than open fires and traditional stoves. These competitively selected projects will transform existing cookstoves and lead to designing next-generation cookstoves,  thereby helping to save lives and improve livelihoods. The Department of Energy, along with other federal agencies, is a founding partner of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, a public-private partnership to advance cookstove technologies that improve indoor air quality, reduce carbon emissions, and deliver important benefits for people's health and the economies of developing nations around the world.   

The Energy Department will provide $2.5 million over three years to support the three innovative projects to  dramatically improve the combustion efficiency of stoves cooking with biomass fuel and will improve our understanding of combustion physics, thereby enabling future developments in cookstove designs. Pending fiscal year 2013 funds for this effort, an additional two alternate projects will be awarded.

The following projects were selected for award negotiations on October 18, 2012:

Selected Applied Research and Development for Products with Auxiliary Devices, including Fans, Sensors, and Controls, (Topic Area 1) Awardees

  • BioLite LLC; Brooklyn, NY; up to $948,597: This project will develop an affordable thermoelectric generator and fan, which will be integrated into a range of stove designs that will significantly improve emissions performance  across the range of appropriate stove types.
  • Research Triangle Institute; RTP, NC; up to $868,202: This project will develop an affordable thermoelectric add-on device to enhance biomass cookstove performance on existing cookstove types to self power a blower for improved combustion and demonstrate significant emission reductions of carbon monoxide and particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM 2.5).

Selected Combustion and Heat Transfer Research (Topic Area 2) Awardees

  • Colorado State University; Fort Collins, CO; up to $998,637: This project will characterize the complex processes of solid biomass combustion and heat transfer in a semi-gasifier stove and develop a computational combustion model to assist in stove design.

Biopower Technical Strategy Workshop

To explore opportunities for biopower in the United States, the Bioenergy Technologies Office conducted the Biopower Technical Strategy Workshop in Denver, Colorado, on December 2–3, 2009. The purpose of the workshop was to provide a forum for discussing technical and economic challenges; research, development, and demonstration priorities; and market transformation. The workshop was attended by a wide spectrum of experts from industry, academia, national laboratories, and government, and it generated a wealth of information and ideas.

In December 2010, the Bioenergy Technologies Office published a full report on the results of this workshop: