During remarks at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Biomass annual conference, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced that the U.S. DOE will invest over $22 million to help develop cost-competitive algae fuels and streamline the biomass feedstock supply chain for advanced biofuels.
“By partnering with industry and universities, we can help make clean, renewable biofuels cost-competitive with gasoline, give drivers more options at the pump, and cut harmful carbon pollution,” said Secretary Moniz.
In the United States, the transportation sector accounts for two-thirds of total U.S. oil consumption and one-third of the nation’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Cellulosic and hydrocarbon-based biofuels made from non-food feedstocks, waste materials, and algae can directly replace gasoline and other fuels in our country’s gas tanks and refineries.
U.S. DOE Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz at the Department of Energy’s annual Biomass conference, speaking about the department’s investments in developing cost-competitive algae fuels. Credit: EERE.
DOE Funded Algae Biofuel Projects $16.5 Million
Hawaii Bioenergy ($5 million DOE investment): Based in Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii Bioenergy will develop a cost-effective photosynthetic open pond system to produce algal oil. The project will also demonstrate preprocessing technologies that reduce energy use and the overall cost of algal oil production.
Sapphire Energy ($5 million DOE investment): Headquartered in San Diego, CA, Sapphire Energy will develop a new process to produce algae-based fuel that is compatible with existing refineries. The project will also work on improving algae strains and increasing yield through cultivation improvements.
New Mexico State University ($5 million DOE investment): For its project, New Mexico State University will increase the yield of a microalgae, while developing harvesting and cultivation processes that lower costs and support year-round production.
California Polytechnic State University ($1.5 million DOE investment): California Polytechnic State University will conduct research and development work to increase the productivity of algae strains and compare two separate processing technologies. The project will be based at a municipal wastewater treatment plant in Delhi, CA that has six acres of algae ponds.
Pictured above is green crude, a renewable crude oil that is created through turning sunlight, CO2, and algae into green oils. Crude oil like this will then be refined into a renewable fuel. Credit: Sapphire Energy.
Streamlining Biomass Feedstock Chain $6 Million
Secretary Moniz also announced a new project led by Ohio-based FDC Enterprises to reduce harvesting, handling, and preprocessing costs across the entire biomass feedstock supply chain. The project will receive a nearly $6 million U.S. Department of Energy investment.
The FDC Enterprises project will work with independent growers and biofuels companies in Iowa, Kansas, Virginia, and Tennesseeincluding POET, ADM, Clariant International, and Pellet Technology USAto help streamline the biomass feedstock chain. The project will develop new field equipment, biorefinery conveyor designs, and improved preprocessing technologies. In addition, the project will develop and deploy feedstock quality-monitoring tools to reduce sampling and analysis costs.
These projects fit in well with the U.S. DOE’s broader goals to produce cost-competitive drop-in biofuels by 2017 and algae biofuels by 2022.