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U.S invests USD 64.7 million in biofuels research to reduce aviation/maritime emissions

13 Sep 2021

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on Thursday (9 September) announced $64.7 million in funding for projects focused on producing cost-effective, low-carbon biofuels. 

These investments will advance technologies to create replacements for petroleum fuels used in heavy-duty forms of transportation, like airplanes and ships, and accelerate America’s path to a net-zero emissions economy by 2050, according to DOE.

“Decarbonizing transportation – particularly planes and ships that are difficult to electrify – is an essential part of the path to a net-zero carbon future,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm.

“These investments mobilize industries to join this effort, which will create new, good-paying jobs across the biofuels, chemical, and agricultural supply chains and boost economic activity in rural economies.” 

As part of the SAF Grand Challenge, DOE also signed a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Department of Transportation and U.S. Department of Agriculture to collaborate on the needed research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) to reach the goals of supplying at least 3 billion gallons of SAF per year by 2030 and sufficient SAF to meet 100% of aviation fuel demand – currently 35 billion gallons per year – by 2050. 

These efforts seek to cut carbon emissions from the aviation and shipping industries, which – because of their size – are more challenging to electrify. Among the projects are: 

  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory (Golden, CO) will lower the cost and carbon intensity of producing a highly fermentable sugar from corn stover. (Award amount: $2,800,000) 
  • Archer Daniels Midland (Decatur, IL) will couple isobutanol (a precursor for sustainable aviation fuel) fermentation with a membrane separations system – reducing energy used in the separation process by 50%. (Award amount: $3,466,844) 
  • Alder Energy (Charleston, SC) will convert miscanthus, a highly promising biomass crop, to SAF through their advanced pyrolysis oil technology, a process that utilizes heat, pressure, and solvents to deconstruct the miscanthus into oils for conversion to SAF. (Award amount: $3,000,000) 
  • D3MAX (Grand Forks, ND) will design a pilot plant to validate technology for first generation ethanol plants to produce ethanol from corn stover, which is then converted to SAF. (Award amount: $499,988) 
  • T2C Energy (Pinellas Park, FL) was selected to design a demonstration scale plant that converts waste landfill gas to SAF or renewable diesel. (Award amount: $533,619) 
  • AVAPCO (Thomaston, GA) will demonstrate a production process for clean, affordable cellulosic sugars, which are derived from agricultural or woody waste residues and can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions for a variety of products including SAF, bioplastics, and biopolymers. (Award amount: $2,800,000) 
  • Quasar Energy Group (Independence, OH) will use an anaerobic digestor to convert food waste to SAF precursors. The microbes that digest the food waste produce a type of chemical called a volatile fatty acid, which can be converted to SAF. (Award amount: $3,500,000) 

 

Photo credit: Science in HD on Unsplash
Published: 13 September, 2021

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