United States: Department Of Energy Issues New Solicitations For Advanced Biofuels Research And Development

Stephen Robert Bolotin is a public affairs advisor in Holland & Knight's Washington D.C. office

Following passage of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 omnibus spending bill in March, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has continued to gain momentum in issuing funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) for millions of dollars in innovative energy research & development (R&D) projects. With its budget increased by 11 percent, the DOE is now targeting R&D into advanced biofuels through four new FOAs focused on feedstock development and conversion process engineering. Reflecting the Trump Administration's policy priorities, these FOAs are targeting early-stage R&D efforts that have the potential to meaningfully advance the state-of-the-art in the bioeconomy. What follows is an overview of these new opportunities followed by some general application guidance derived from our experience working with these programs.

Efficient Carbon Utilization in Algal Systems

  • Objective: This FOA aims on increasing carbon utilization efficiencies as well as developing direct air capture technologies within algae cultivation systems in order to increase productivity and reduce cost.
  • Funding Levels: Up to $15 million in total funding available for 1 to 10 awards ranging from $1.5 to $2.5 million.
  • Topic Areas:

    • Topic 1: CO2 utilization within Algae cultivation systems, which aims to increase the productivity of algae by improving uptake and conversion of waste CO2 emissions.
    • Topic 2: Direct air capture systems, which aims to develop new and affordable technologies to capture CO2 directly from ambient air to enhance algal growth.
  • Key Deadlines:

    • Letters of Intent due May 30, 2018
    • Full Applications due June 27, 2018

Bioenergy Engineering for Products Synthesis (BEEPS)

  • Objective: This FOA aims to fund innovative R&D pathways capable of producing renewable hydrocarbon fuels at a modeled mature price of $3/gallon gasoline equivalent from lignocellulosic biomass or other waste feedstocks by 2022.
  • Funding Levels: Up to $28 million in total funding available for approximately 14-28 awards ranging from $1 to $2.5 million.
  • Topic Area(s):

    • Topic 1: ChemCatBio Industrial Partnerships will provide funding for a collaborative project between an applicant and Chemical Catalysis for Bioenergy (ChemCatBio) consortium aimed at tackling fundamental challenges in catalysis for bioenergy.
    • Topic 2: Agile Biofoundry Industrial Partnership Initiative will provide funding for collaborative projects between an applicant and the Agile Biofoundry to address critical biomanufacturing challenges.
    • Topic 3: Performance Advantaged Bioproducts aims at early stage R&D to identify and produce performance advantaged biobased products.
    • Topic 4: Biofuels and Bioproducts from Wet Organic Waste Streams seeks a novel and practical alternative to anaerobic digestion.
    • Topic 5: Rewiring Carbon Utilization provides funds for the leveraging of non-biological carbon dioxide utilization technologies.
    • Topic 6: Lignin Valorization seeks new innovative approaches to efficiently use lignin.
  • Key deadlines:

    • Letters of Intent due May 30, 2018
    • Full Applications due June 27, 2018

DE-FOA-0001917: Affordable and Sustainable Energy Crops (ASEC)

  • Objective: This FOA aims to building upon the DOE's 2016 Billion‐Ton Report: Advancing Domestic Resources for a Thriving Bioeconomy, Volume 1: Economic Availability of Feedstocks and generate scientific information on new varieties/cultivars of energy crops with an eye toward performance improvement.
  • Funding Levels: Up to $15 million in total funding available for 3 to 6 awards ranging from $2.5 to $5 million.
  • There is only one Topic Area for this FOA: Affordable and Sustainable Energy Crops.
  • Key Deadlines:

    • Letters of Intent due May 30, 2018
    • Full Applications due June 27, 201

DE-FOA-0001926: Process Development for Advanced Biofuels and Biopower

  • Objective: This FOA aims to support research, development, and execution plans to test engineering principles and unit operations for the production and testing of Drop‐in Renewable Jet Fuel Blendstocks and Drop‐In Renewable Diesel Fuel Blendstocks from eligible feedstocks.
  • Funding Levels: Up to $20 million in total funding available for 5 to 11 awards ranging from $1 to $3 million.
  • Topic Area(s):

    • Topic 1: Drop-In Renewable Jet Fuel Blendstocks will advance innovative pathways for producing drop‐in renewable jet fuel blendstocks suitable for use by the aviation sector.
    • Topic 2: Drop-In Renewable Diesel Fuel Blendstocks will focus on producing renewable diesel fuel with improved performance, competiveness, and price.
    • Topic 3: Biomass, Biosolids, and Municipal Solid Waste to Energy is seeking to utilize biomass, biosolids, and solid waste to advance the state-of-the-art in waste-to-energy production
  • Key Deadlines:

    • Letters of Intent due May 30, 2018
    • Full Applications due June 27, 2018.

Holland & Knight Insights

We encourage applicants to begin outreach to strategic partners, including DOE National Laboratories, as soon as possible. Indeed, DOE likes to fund projects that support their labs, and such partnerships can add credibility and increase the odds of success. We also encourage applicants to carefully review the solicitation's strategic objectives; an application must be well-aligned with these programmatic objectives to be competitive. Holland & Knight's Government Energy Finance Team is always available to assist companies throughout all stages of the application process. For more information or to apply online, visit the DOE's Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Funding Exchange.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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