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DOE invests USD 34 million in biofuel R&D tech projects, targets aviation and marine sectors

05 Aug 2021

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on Tuesday (3 August) said it ill invest nearly USD $34 million in funding for 11 projects that will support high-impact research and development to improve and produce biofuels, biopower, and bioproducts.

These biomass resources, otherwise known as feedstocks, can be produced by municipal solid waste (MSW) streams and algae and converted into low-carbon fuels that can significantly contribute to the decarbonisation of transportation sectors that face barriers to electrification – such as aviation and marine.

By lowering the carbon footprint of the transportation sector, biofuels will play an important role in reaching the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

“From food waste to yard trimmings, biomass technology is converting our everyday trash into low-carbon fuel for planes and ships while cutting costs and supporting our critical transportation sector,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm.

“The companies and universities leading these projects will ensure that our cutting-edge biofuel technologies reduce carbon emissions, create new jobs up and down the supply chain, and are made in America by American workers.”

The selected projects will:

  • Research and develop waste for energy conversion ($15M)– Awardees across five projects will expand understanding of the potential for municipal solid waste (which typically consists of a complex mixture of food waste, glass, metals, yard trimmings, woody waste materials, non-recyclable paper and plastic, construction and demolition waste, rags, and sludge from wastewater treatment) to become biofuel energy. The process of converting waste into biofuel has significant potential to divert large volumes of garbage from the landfills to the refinery.
  • Improve algae farming practices to increase production ($18.7M)– Awardees across six projects will look into diverse strains and farming practices of algae and explore new ways to improve their growth. Algae uses sunlight and nutrients to grow, and then can be converted to a variety of biofuels and products.

“The ABO is thrilled to see continued support for algae programs that have significant potential to push the bioenergy industry forward,” said Dr. Rebecca White, Executive Director of the Algae Biomass Organization (ABO).

“DOE has a long history of supporting work that yields discoveries and innovation in algae production. These projects will examine a diverse portfolio of algae strains that will advance the use of algae products across market sectors and significantly contribute to reducing carbon emissions.”

“Converting waste into resources relies on continued scientific advancement and innovation to overcome the technological and economic limitations that stand in the way of lasting change,” said Dr. Bryan Staley, President & CEO of the Environmental Research & Education Foundation.

“Through these projects, DOE’s significant commitment to waste conversion will move the needle substantially.”


Photo credit: Science in HD on Unsplash
Published: 5 August, 2021

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