Past Solicitations

This page archives the Bioenergy Technologies Office's past solicitations and awardees—from 2007 to the present. Click the links below to go directly to specific solicitations or years.

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

 

2012

Funding Opportunity Announcement: Innovative Pilot- and Demonstration-Scale Production of Advanced Biofuels

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a funding opportunity for pilot- or demonstration-scale integrated biorefineries that can produce hydrocarbon fuels that meet military specifications. Integrated biorefineries proposed for this funding opportunity may employ various combinations of feedstocks and conversion technologies to produce a variety of products; the primary requirement is that the refineries have a critical focus on producing biofuels. DOE sought applicants in two topics areas:

  • Topic Area 1: Applicants were requested to design, construct, and/or operate an integrated biorefinery (pilot-scale or demonstration-scale) in order to validate the proposed technology using an acceptable lignocellulosic or waste-based feedstock to create an acceptable biofuel.
  • Topic Area 2: Applicants were requested to design, construct, and/or operate an integrated biorefinery (pilot-scale or demonstration-scale) in order to validate the proposed technology using an acceptable algal-type feedstock to produce an acceptable biofuel.

The application process for this funding opportunity is closed. The consideration and evaluation process has begun. Decisions on award recipients will be made at a later time and announced to applicants prior to a formal public announcement by DOE. Please check back at a later time for the announcement and future funding opportunity announcements.

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Funding Opportunity Announcement: Innovative Biosynthetic Pathways to Advanced Biofuels

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a potential funding opportunity for research and development in the area of synthetic biology technologies as they relate to developing biofuels and bioproducts. DOE sought applicants in two topics areas:

  • Intermediate Production: Innovative synthetic biological approaches to the cost-effective fractionation of lignocellulosic biomass, both terrestrial and aquatic, into components that can be readily processed into higher value materials and monomers.
  • Intermediate Transformations: Innovative synthetic biological approaches to the cost-effective and high-yield conversion of component fractions that can be processed into advanced biofuels and high-energy impact bioproducts.

The application process for this funding opportunity is closed. The consideration and evaluation process has begun. Decisions on award recipients will be made at a later time and announced to applicants prior to a formal public announcement by DOE. Please check back at a later time for the announcement and future funding opportunity announcements.

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Research, Development, and Tools for Clean Biomass Cookstoves

On October 18, 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced award of $2.5 million over three years to support projects that focus on biomass cookstoves. A key factor in DOE's decision-making process was research and development (R&D) that improves the combustion efficiency of stoves that use biomass fuel, as well as our understanding of combustion physics to enable more efficient cookstove designs for the future. Designs were selected based on their ability to enable users to burn wood or crop residue more efficiently and with less smoke than traditional stoves or open fires; this improves indoor air quality, reduces carbon emissions, and delivers key economic and health benefits to developing nations. The following projects were selected to perform R&D for products with auxiliary devices:

  • BioLite, LLC (Brooklyn, New York) will develop an affordable thermoelectric generator and fan that will be integrated into a variety of stoves. To learn more, visit the BioLite website.
  • Research Triangle Institute (Research Triangle Park, North Carolina) will develop a thermoelectric add-on device to enhance the cooking performance of existing biomass stoves. To learn more, visit the Research Triangle Institute Energy Research website.
  • Colorado State University (Fort Collins Colorado) was also selected to receive a grant to research combustion and heat transfer. The project will characterize the complex process of solid biomass combustion and heat transfer in order to develop a model to assist development projects in designing stoves. To learn more, visit the Colorado State University Biomass Energy Resources website.

Pending additional funding for fiscal year 2013, two more projects will be awarded under this funding opportunity.

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Bio-Oil Stabilization and Commoditization

On August 15, 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced award of $11 million to support projects that produce stable bio-oils from lignocellulosic and algal biomass sources. The target goal is to create bio-oils capable of blending within existing petroleum refineries to produce drop-in fuel with a renewable edge. DOE sought applicants in two categories: research and development (R&D) to establish proof of concept bio-oil production systems that engage a refinery partner; and technology providers with an R&D plan and initial refinery partner to validate the process on a larger scale. Applicants in the second category will have existing petroleum refinery partners and more advanced technology. The following projects were selected in the first category:

The following projects were selected as recipients in the second category based on their existing partnerships with traditional petroleum refineries:

  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (Richland, Washington) will partner with W.R. Grace to work on the use of fast pyrolysis oil to produce gasoline-range and diesel-range hydrocarbon fuels. To learn more, visit the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory website.
  • Gas Technology Institute (Des Plaines, Illinois) will work with the Valero petroleum refinery to create hydropyrolysis oil from biomass that can then be converted to a hydrocarbon fuel. To learn more, visit the Gas Technology Institute website.

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Biomass Advancements in Sustainable Algal Production

On August 15, 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced awards of $14 million in grants to support algal research and development. DOE already supports more than 30 algae-based biofuels projects, representing $85 million in investments. Part of this investment in biofuels focuses on unlocking the potential for homegrown transportation fuels from algae, which could potentially replace up to 17% of the United States' imported oil. The following four projects were selected based on their focus on algal production systems and development of algal testbed facilities:

These projects will support DOE's goal of having more than 1 billion gallons of cost-competitive algal biofuels by 2022. This particular award is the first phase of an intended $30 million investment in algal biofuels for 2012.

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2011

Drop-In Biofuels and Bioproducts

On June 10, 2011, the U.S. Department of Energy announced $36 million in grants to support six small-scale projects in California, Michigan, North Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin that will advance the technology improvements and process integration needed to produce drop-in, advanced biofuels and other biobased chemicals. Drop-in fuel refers to a substitute that is completely interchangeable and compatible with conventional fossil fuel and does not require adaptation of the engine, fuel system, or fuel distribution network. Drop-ins can also be used in pure form, or they can be blended in any quantity with existing fuels. The following projects were selected for award:

  • General Atomics (San Diego, California) aims to improve the production of algal oils as drop-in fuels. To learn more, visit the General Atomics General Atomics Energy website.
  • Genomatica, Inc. (San Diego, California) will engineer an organism for optimized fermentation of cellulosic sugars. To learn more, visit the Genomatica, Inc. Technology website.
  • Michigan Biotechnology Institute (Lansing, Michigan) will focus on the pretreatment process to stabilize conversion-ready intermediates. To learn more, visit the Michigan Biotechnology Institute's website.
  • HCL CleanTech, Inc., now Virdia (Oxford, North Carolina), will focus on improving the process for pretreatment and conversion of biomass feedstocks. To learn more, visit the Virdia website.
  • Texas Engineering Experiment Station (College Station, Texas) will develop a pretreatment for cellulosic biomass feedstocks that will enable conversion to hydrocarbons. To learn more, visit the Texas Engineering Experiment Station Energy and the Environment website.
  • Virent Energy Systems, Inc. (Madison, Wisconsin) will develop a fully integrated process for converting cellulosic biomass feedstock to a mix of hydrocarbons targeted for use as jet fuel. To learn more, visit the Virent Energy Systems, Inc. website.

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USDA-DOE Joint Grants on Biomass Research and Development for Energy Independence

On May 5, 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Energy announced $47 million in grants to support research and development projects that will reduce the United States' reliance on imported oil. Funded through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative, the advanced biofuels produced through these projects are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% compared to fossil fuels and increase the availability of alternative renewable fuels and biobased products. The following projects were selected for award:

  • Cellana, LLC (Kailua-Kona, Hawaii) will work to develop a protein supplement from algae as a by-product of algal biofuels production. To learn more, visit the Cellana, LLC website.
  • Domtar Paper Company, LLC (Fort Mill, South Carolina) will build a demonstration plant using two technologies to convert low-value by-products and waste into sugar, oil, and lignin products. To learn more, visit the Domtar Paper Company, LLC Sustainability website.
  • Exelus, Inc. (Livingston, New Jersey) will work to develop energy crops with an improved tolerance to drought and salt stress. To learn more, visit the Exelus, Inc. website.
  • Metabolix, Inc. (Cambridge, Massachusetts) will enhance the yield of bio-based products, biopower, and fuels made from switchgrass. To learn more, visit the Metabolix, Inc. website.
  • University of Florida (Gainesville, Florida) will improve the production and sustainability of sweet sorghum as an energy crop. To learn more, visit the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences website.
  • University of Kansas Center for Research (Lawrence, Kansas) will demonstrate a sustainable technology at a pilot scale that produces advanced fuels and chemical intermediates. To learn more, visit the University of Kansas Center for Research website.
  • University of Kentucky (Lexington, Kentucky) will improve the economics for biorefineries by using on-farm processing to convert biomass and waste. To learn more, visit the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research website.
  • U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station (Missoula, Montana) will develop an integrated approach to investigate biomass feedstock production, logistics, conversion, distribution, and end use. For more information, visit the Rocky Mountain Research Station's website.

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Advanced Biofuels Development

On March 30, 2011, the U.S. Department of Energy announced up to $12 million to support three small-scale projects that will commercialize novel conversion technologies to accelerate the development of advanced, drop-in biofuels and other biobased chemicals. The projects will accelerate research and development to lead the way toward clean alternatives to fossil fuels. The following projects were selected for award:

  • LanzaTech (Roselle, Illinois) will develop a cost-effective technology that converts biomass ethanol into jet fuel. To learn more, visit the LanzaTech website.
  • Research Triangle Institute (Research Triangle Park, North Carolina) will work on an integrated thermochemical process and a hydroprocessing technology to turn biomass into gasoline and diesel. To learn more, visit the Research Triangle Institute Energy Research website.
  • Virent Energy Systems, Inc. (Madison, Wisconsin) will work on an integrated process that will convert biomass to intermediates and intermediates into a blending hydrocarbon. To learn more, visit the Virent Energy Systems, Inc. website.

All of these projects will use some form of thermochemical process as the basis of their research and advance drop-in biofuel production, efficiency, and cost effectiveness.

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2010

Advanced Biofuels Technology Development and Sustainable Bioenergy Feedstock Production

On September 9, 2010, the U.S. Department of Energy announced investment of $16.5 million to support two research and development initiatives surrounding biofuels technology development and sustainable bioenergy feedstock production. Both initiatives will support the expansion of renewable transportation fuels production. The first initiative includes four projects, which will receive a total of $12 million, and will focus on developing technologies for thermochemical conversion of biomass that is compatible with existing infrastructure. Those four projects are as follows:

The bio-oil created by these four projects has shown potential to be compatible with existing petroleum infrastructure, making it an invaluable product for energy efficiency.

The second initiative includes three projects that will design, model, and implement sustainable biomass production systems across the country. By improving production and processing, the biomass resources have the potential to provide a source of liquid transportation fuels and biopower. Those three projects are as follows:

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Algal Biofuels Research Grants

On June 28, 2010, the U.S. Department of Energy announced investment of $24 million to support three research groups in investigating obstacles to commercialization of algae-based biofuels. The consortia's research will support the development of a clean, sustainable transportation sector that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on fossil fuels. The following consortia were selected for award:

  • Sustainable Algal Biofuels Consortium (Mesa, Arizona), led by Arizona State University, will test the acceptability of algal biofuels as substitutes for petroleum. For more information, visit the Sustainable Algal Biofuels Consortium website.
  • Consortium for Algal Biofuels Commercialization (San Diego, California), led by the University of California, San Diego, will concentrate on developing algae as a biofuels feedstock. For more information, visit the San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology website.
  • Consortium of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, led by Cellana, LLC, will examine large-scale production of fuels and feed from seawater microalgae. For more information, visit the Cellana, LLC website.

Each consortium includes private and public partners and is expected to continue joint projects for a period of three years.

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Advanced Biofuels Process Development Facility

On March 31, 2010, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced award of $18 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 funds to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to build an advanced biofuels process development facility. The grant will enable the facility to test and integrate innovative technologies that can later be applied to the private commercial scale. The facility is the first of its kind available for public use and will establish an Advanced Biofuels Process Development Unit (PDU) that will gather the research and efforts of all DOE laboratories for implementation. The PDU will also allow private sector partners the opportunity to scale-up some of their existing processes to test. The facility, which became fully operational in 2011, will have capabilities for pretreatment of biomass, enzyme production, fermentation, and product purification.

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American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Invests in Advanced Biofuels Research and Fueling Infrastructure

On January 13, 2010, the U.S. Department of Energy announced investment of approximately $80 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 funds to support two recipients in researching algae-based and other advanced biofuels. The consortia selected for project award include the following:

  • National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts, led by the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center of Saint Louis, Missouri, will develop a systems approach for sustainable commercialization of algal biofuel and bioproducts. To learn more, visit the National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts consortium website.
  • National Advanced Biofuels Consortium, led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory of Golden, Colorado, and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory of Richland, Washington, will conduct research to develop existing infrastructure compatible, biomass-based hydrocarbon fuels. To learn more, visit the National Advanced Biofuels Consortium website.

Collectively, these projects will be matched by private and non-federal cost-share funds of more than $19 million. The critical research performed by the consortia will support the development of a clean, sustainable transportation sector. Additional funds within this investment will be directed to expanded fueling infrastructure for ethanol blends in Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.

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2009

Supply Systems to Handle and Deliver High-Tonnage Biomass Feedstocks

On August 31, 2009, DOE announced up to $21 million made available for the selection of five projects to develop supply systems to handle and deliver high tonnage biomass feedstocks for cellulosic biofuels production. The awards were part of the department's ongoing efforts to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, spur the creation of the domestic bio-industry and provide new jobs in many rural areas of the country. The chosen awards were selected as the best projects to stimulate the design and demonstration of a comprehensive system to handle the harvesting, collection, preprocessing, transport, and storage of sufficient volumes of sustainably produced feedstocks. Feedstocks or combinations of feedstocks that were considered include: agricultural residues, energy crops (e.g., switchgrass, miscanthus, energycane, sorghum, poplar, willow), forest resources (e.g., forest thinnings, wood chips, wood wastes, small diameter trees), and urban wood wastes.

Projects selected for negotiation of awards:

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American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Invests in Integrated Biorefineries

On December 4, 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Energy announced selection of 19 integrated biorefinery (IBR) projects to receive up to $564 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 funds. The projects span 15 states and were selected to lay the foundation for full commercial-scale development of biomass production. The following recipients will produce bioproducts and biofuels at the pilot, demonstration, and full commercial scales:

See the complete list and descriptions of the projects selected for more information about their proposals.

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DOE-USDA Joint Research and Development Grants Awarded

On November 12, 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awarded more than $24 million in a series of joint grants. Of the total sum, DOE will contribute approximately $4.9 million. The 12 awardees all proposed research and development projects in the fields of biofuels and biobased products, biofuels development analysis, and feedstock development. The resulting biofuels are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% compared to fossil fuels. A major selection criterion was a commitment to increasing availability of biobased products made from more diverse, renewable biomass. The following projects were selected for award:

  • GE Global Research (Irvine, California) will perform research in the biofuels and biobased products category to develop detailed and simplified kinetic models of biomass gasification. To learn more, visit the GE Energy Program website.
  • Gevo, Inc. (Englewood, Colorado) will develop a yeast fermentation organism to create isobutanol, a second generation biofuel. To learn more, visit the Gevo website.
  • Itaconix (Hampton Falls, New Hampshire) will develop production methods to create polyitaconic acid using wood biomass. To learn more, visit the Itaconix website.
  • Yenkin-Majestic Paint Corporation (Columbus, Ohio) will demonstrate the operation of a dry fermentation system using food and wood wastes to produce biogas, heat, and electrical power. To learn more, visit the Yenkin-Majestic website.
  • Velocys, Inc. (Plain City, Ohio) will improve biorefinery economics through microchannel hydroprocessing. To learn more, visit the Velocys website.
  • Exelus, Inc. (Livingston, New Jersey) will develop a biomass-to-gasoline technology using engineered catalysts. To learn more, visit the Exelus website.
  • Purdue University (West Lafayette, Indiana) will develop an analysis of the global impacts of second generation biofuels. To learn more, visit the Purdue University Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering website.
  • The University of Minnesota (Saint Paul, Minnesota) will assess the environmental sustainability and capacity of forest-based biofuel feedstocks. To learn more, visit the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment website.
  • Consortium for Research on Renewable Industrial Materials (located in Washington, Idaho, North Carolina, Mississippi, and Tennessee) will compare the life-cycle environmental and economic impacts for collecting biomass for a variety conversion processes. To learn more, visit the Consortium for Research on Renewable Industrial Materials website.
  • Agrivida (Medford, Massachusetts) will develop new crop traits to eliminate the need for pretreatment equipment and enzymes. To learn more, visit the Agrivida website.
  • Oklahoma State University (Stillwater, Oklahoma) will develop the best practices and technologies needed to ensure efficient and sustainable production of cellulosic ethanol feedstocks. To learn more, visit the Oklahoma State University website.
  • The University of Tennessee (Knoxville, Tennessee) will compare several varieties of switchgrass using various harvesting, management, and conversion practices. To learn more, visit the University of Tennessee's Institute of Agriculture website.

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2008

Stabilization of Biomass Fast Pyrolysis Oils

On October 7, 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded $7 million to five advanced biofuels projects to perform research and development that will advance cost-effective, practical technology needed to stabilize biomass fast pyrolysis oils. Pyrolysis oil is derived from cellulosic biomass feedstocks; through a multistep stabilization process, pyrolysis offers the potential of a greenhouse gas neutral, renewable, and domestically produced feedstock for petroleum refineries. The finished product is indistinguishable from current hydrocarbon fuels produced from petroleum feedstocks. Combined with a minimum cost share of 20%, more than $8.75 million will be invested in the following projects:

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Clean Energy Commercialization

On August 29, 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it will invest $7 million to hasten the process of moving technologies from DOE's national laboratories to the commercial market. The seven laboratories selected for award are at the forefront of renewable energy research:

The funding will support activities such as demonstration projects, market research, and prototype development, as well as encourage private industry partnerships. This process will facilitate the transition of technology from the laboratory to the market.

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DOE-USDA Award Joint Grant for Cellulosic Biofuel Research

On July 31, 2008, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awarded more than $10 million in a joint grant to 10 recipients who were selected based on their goals to accelerate research in biomass genomics and to further the use of cellulosic plant material for bioenergy and biofuels. Most of the awardees will be investigating ways to improve the performance of switchgrass, a fast-growing perennial grass that can be used to produce cellulosic ethanol. Additional plant material being studied includes sunflowers, poplar, and soybeans. The 10 grant recipients are as follows:

To learn more about each of the projects, visit the DOE-USDA Genomic Science Program Web page.

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DOE-USDA Annual Joint Biomass Grant Given to 21 Recipients

On March 8, 2008, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced an investment of $18.4 million over three years for more than 20 biomass research and development (R&D) and demonstration projects. A key selection criterion included a commitment to addressing and reducing barriers to efficient and cost-effective bio-based products and biofuel. Of the 21 recipients, 19 were awarded funding for R&D:

The other two recipients were awarded funding for demonstration projects:

All grant recipients are required to raise a minimum of 20% matching funds for R&D projects, or 50% matching funds for demonstration projects. USDA will provide more than $13 million of the total grant, with DOE providing more than $5 million.

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Enzymes Systems for Cellulosic Ethanol Production

On February 27, 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy announced its investment of up to $33.8 million over four years in support of four projects that will develop improved enzyme systems to convert cellulosic material into sugars suitable for production of biofuels. These projects aim to address key technical hurdles associated with the mass production of clean, renewable fuels, such as cellulosic ethanol. These four projects seek to more cost-effectively and efficiently break down processed biomass into fermentable sugars, a significant challenge in converting biomass into fuels.

Projects were selected based on their demonstrated ability to reduce the cost of enzymes-per-gallon of ethanol by improving an enzyme's performance. Selected projects must demonstrate the ability to produce enzymes at a commercial scale, and have a sound business strategy to market the enzymes or enzyme production systems in biorefinery operations. Combined with industry cost share, up to $70 million will be invested in these projects, with a minimum 50% cost share from industry. The four projects selected to negotiate awards are as follows:

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Small-Scale Cellulosic Biorefineries

On January 29, 2008, DOE announced it will provide up to $114 million over four years to support the development of small-scale cellulosic biorefineries. The projects will develop biorefineries at 10% of commercial scale that produce liquid transportation fuels as well as biobased chemicals and bioproducts used in industrial applications. Projects selected to negotiate awards will use novel approaches and a variety of cellulosic feedstocks to test new conversion processes. Combined with industry cost share, more than $331 million will be invested in these four projects. Combined with industry cost share, more than $331 million will be invested in these four projects. Two projects were announced July 14, 2008, with DOE cofunding of up to $40 million. An additional three projects were later announced with DOE cofunding of up to $86 million.

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2007

Thermochemical Solicitation

On December 4, 2007, the U.S. Department of Energy announced that four cellulosic biofuel projects will receive up to $7.7 million over the next three years. Due to available funding, a fifth project with the Gas Technology Institute was added. The five projects will receive up to $9.7 million in funding. When combined with the industry cost share, more than $17.7 million will be invested in the five projects from fiscal year 2008 to fiscal year 2010. The following five projects were selected for negotiation of awards:

These projects will demonstrate the thermochemical conversion process of turning switchgrass, corn stover, wood, and the non-edible parts of other organic materials into biofuel. The five projects will validate technologies for removing contaminants from biomass-derived synthesis gas to very low levels. After verifying that the proposed cleanup technology can achieve the required low contaminant level, the projects will advance to the second phase where a fuel synthesis train will be coupled to the gas cleanup system. The fuel synthesis train will use catalysts to convert the cleaned synthesis gas to Fischer Tropsch (FT) hydrocarbons and/or mixed alcohols.

Emery Energy Company will demonstrate conversion to both hydrocarbons and mixed alcohols, while the other four projects will only produce FT hydrocarbons. This research promises to validate effective technology to eliminate contaminants generated during biomass gasification to levels necessary to protect the expensive catalysts used for subsequent fuels synthesis from poisoning.

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Bioenergy Research Centers

On October 1, 2007, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it will award an additional $30 million to three Bioenergy Research Centers (BRCs); an initial award of $375 million was granted on June 26, 2007. The BRCs will pursue research on a range of high-risk, high-return biological solutions to use for bioenergy. They will seek a better understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying biofuel production, leading to redesign and improvement of current techniques to create a more efficient strategy to be used on a mass scale. The three major categories studied by the BRCs are development of next-generation bioenergy crops, discovery and design of enzymes and microbes with biomass-degrading capabilities, and development of transformational microbe-mediated strategies for biofuel production. The three centers selected were:

The additional funding was granted to enable the BRCs to begin research on an accelerated schedule. Partners for the project include a total of seven DOE national laboratories, 18 universities, 1 nonprofit organization, and a range of private companies. A major focus will be on reengineering biological processes to develop more efficient methods for converting cellulosic material, including agricultural residues, grasses, poplar trees, inedible plants, and non-edible portions of crops, into ethanol or other biofuels that serve as a substitute for gasoline. To learn more, visit the DOE Bioenergy Research Centers website.

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Genomics: GTL Bioenergy Research Centers

In June 2007, DOE announced the Office of Science has established three Bioenergy Research Centers intended to accelerate basic research in the development of cellulosic ethanol and other biofuels as part of the Office's Genomics: GTL Program.

More information about the GTL Bioenergy Research Centers can be found on the Office of Science website.

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Cellulosic Ethanol Conversion

On March 27, 2007, the U.S. Department of Energy announced that it will award $23 million over the next four years to five projects focused on developing highly efficient fermentative organisms to convert biomass material into ethanol. Commercialization of fermentative organisms, capable of fermenting both hexose and pentose sugars, is crucial to the success of biochemical-based integrated biorefineries. The criteria used in selecting these projects include the organism's stated capacity to convert lignocellulosic biomass to ethanol; the robustness of the organism in process-relevant conditions; and commercial market economics. Additionally, it was specified that the organism must be able to survive a wide range of environmental and process conditions and remain stable from adverse mutation. The five projects selected for award are as follows:

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Integrated Cellulosic Biorefineries

On February 28, 2007, the Department of Energy (DOE) selected six biorefinery projects to develop commercial-scale integrated biorefineries demonstrating the use of a wide variety of cellulosic feedstocks such as corn fiber, wood wastes, agriculture residues, municipal solid wastes and potential energy crops. The collective goal of these projects is to demonstrate that integrated biorefineries can operate profitably once their construction costs are covered and can be replicated.

Since selection on February 28, two of the projects were withdrawn, leaving four projects to reach award. DOE will invest up to $272 million in the four projects over the next four years. When fully operational, these facilities will be capable of producing more than 98.1 million gallons of ethanol per year.

While the refining process for cellulosic ethanol is more complex than that of corn-based ethanol, cellulosic ethanol yields a somewhat greater net energy benefit and results in lower greenhouse gas emissions. Three of the four projects—BlueFire Ethanol, Inc., Poet, and Abengoa Bioenergy—will principally utilize biochemical processes to free the sugars from the biomass and then ferment them into alcohol. Range Fuels plans to use thermochemical processes to gasify the biomass into a "synthesis gas," which will then be further converted into biofuels.

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