The Department of Energy closed out August with the announcement of an additional $12 million to fund three small-scale projects in Illinois, Wisconsin and North Carolina. Announced by U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, the technologies selected were chosen to help accelerate the development of advanced drop-in fuels and biochemicals.
Drop-in fuels have received much attention from both investors and the government because they can replace current fuels – either diesel or gasoline- without making any changes to the current transportation system.
“Producing advanced, drop-in biofuels in the U.S. will reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil and support development of a new industry that will create jobs in rural communities across the country,” said Secretary Chu. “These investments aim to accelerate the discovery of innovative solutions that could drive down the cost of biofuels production and boost their availability in the marketplace.”
All three technologies use thermochemical processes designed to improve the economics and efficiency of converting biomass into fuels and other products. According to the DOE, this type of process uses heat and catalysts to convert the biomass in a controlled environment, into a liquid or gas. From there, they are then chemically transformed into fuels and other products.
The following projects were selected:
LanzaTech of Roselle, Illinois will receive up to $4 million to develop a cost-effective technology that converts biomass-derived ethanol into jet fuel using catalysts. It will also produce a valuable bio-product called butadiene that could be used to improve the overall economics of the fuel production process.
Research Triangle Institute of Research Triangle Park, North Carolina will receive up to $4 million to integrate two processes: a thermochemical process that produces a bio-crude intermediate from biomass, and a hydroprocessing technology that effectively and efficiently upgrades the bio-crude into gasoline and diesel.
Virent Energy Systems, Inc. of Madison, Wisconsin will receive up to $4 million to convert biomass into oxygenated chemical intermediates using an innovative thermochemical technology and upgrade the intermediates to a hydrocarbon, which can then be refined and blended into gasoline and jet fuel, as well as high value chemicals.