The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announces up to $11.3 million for three projects that support the development of biomass-to-hydrocarbon biofuels conversion pathways that can produce variable amounts of fuels and/or products based on external factors, such as market demand. Producing high-value bioproducts alongside cost-competitive biofuels has the potential to support a positive return on investment for a biorefinery. This funding will develop new strategies for biorefineries, resulting in long-term benefits to the United States, including chemicals and products manufacturing.
DOE's Bioenergy Technologies Office has selected three projects for funding under the MEGA-BIO: Bioproducts to Enable Biofuels funding opportunity. The selected projects propose conversion pathways that target the production of bioproducts to enable biofuels.
- The Dow Chemical Company (Midland, MI)—The Dow Chemical Company, in partnership with LanzaTech and Northwestern University, will develop a process for the bioconversion of biomass-derived synthetic gas (syngas) to C6-C14 fatty alcohols as a pathway to biofuels. The fermentation of bio-syngas from lignocellulosic biomass will decouple the biofuel supply chain from the food chain, and the production of intermediate fatty alcohols offers a unique opportunity to traverse the "valley of death" for biofuel process and infrastructure development by leveraging the robust chemical markets and high-margin applications of fatty alcohols and their derivatives.
- Amyris, Inc. (Emeryville, CA)—Amyris Inc., in cooperation with Renmatix and Total New Energies, will develop a manufacturing-ready process to produce farnesene, a hydrocarbon building block used in the manufacture of a variety of consumer products ranging from cosmetics to detergents, as well as in the transportation industry for diesel and jet fuel. They plan to produce farnesene from cellulosic sugar at the same projected cost of current farnesene manufacturing using cane syrup. The project will accomplish its goal by engineering multiple new capabilities into its current farnesene manufacturing strain, and at the end of the project, Renmatix will have achieved a process to deliver lignin free, cost-competitive C5 and C6 sugars to meet farnesene fermentation requirements.
- Research Triangle Institute (Research Triangle Park, NC)—Research Triangle Institute will partner with Arkema and AECOM to investigate the technical feasibility and economic potential, as well as the environmental and sustainability benefit, of recovering mixed methoxyphenols from biocrude as building block chemicals alongside the production of biofuels. These methoxyphenols include eugenols and guaiacols, which can be used for the synthesis of active pharmaceuticals, food flavorings, and perfume products. Achieving technical success in recovering high-value methoxyphenols from direct biomass liquefaction liquid products prior to upgrading to biofuels could provide a significant source of revenue to improve overall process economics and help meet the modeled $3/gasoline gallon equivalent production-cost target for advanced biofuels technologies by 2022.