United States – The US Department of Energy (DOE) has given $64.7 million in financing for projects focusing on developing cost-effective, low-carbon biofuels as part of a White House roundtable to launch the Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) Grand Challenge to decarbonize the aviation sector by 2050.
These investments will expedite America’s transition to a net-zero emissions economy by 2050 by advancing technology to develop substitutes for petroleum fuels used in heavy-duty modes of transportation, such as airplanes and ships.
Agreement with US Departments of Transportation and Agriculture
DOE also signed a memorandum of understanding with the US Departments of Transportation and Agriculture as part of the SAF Grand Challenge to collaborate on the needed research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) to meet the goals of supplying at least 3 billion gallons of SAF per year by 2030 and enough SAF to meet 100% of aviation fuel demand – currently 35 billion gallons.
These activities aim to reduce carbon emissions from the aviation and shipping industries, which are more difficult to electrify due to their magnitude. Biofuels, which are made by transforming renewable carbon from recently living organic materials such as crop waste, food waste, and algae into a liquid fuel, can be used to replace fossil-based fuels like gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel fuel.
22 chosen projects
The 22 projects chosen are focused on high-impact bioenergy technology research and development, with the goal of bolstering basic knowledge and scaling up systems to produce low-carbon biofuels at reduced costs. The following are some of the projects:
- 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)
These investments are administered by DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO), which is focused on developing technologies that convert domestic biomass and other waste resources into low-carbon biofuels and bioproducts. BETO is increasing its emphasis on partnering with industry to demonstrate technologies at large scale in recognition of the urgent need to reduce risks and scale-up SAF production.