US: DOE funds new Mega-Bio project for production of sugar and lignin

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced that it will award a fourth project—up to $1.8 million—under the MEGA-BIO: Bioproducts to Enable Biofuels Funding Opportunity. In August 2016, DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) selected three projects for an initial round of funding.

The total funding for the four MEGA-BIO awards is $13.1 million.

The new project:

  • DOE selected Michigan State University to manage the fourth project, which will work in partnership with the University of Wisconsin–Madison and MBI International to optimize a two-stage process for deconstruction of biomass into two clean intermediate streams: sugars for the production of hydrocarbon fuels and lignins for the production of multiple value-added chemicals. Lignin can be utilized as a renewable source for creating valuable aromatic chemicals, which have various industrial applications and can be used as the building blocks for fragrances, flavors, and novel bio-based foams and adhesives. The project will work to overcome several existing challenges, such as lignin’s low susceptibility to depolymerization, to help capture its full potential as an economically viable feedstock for renewable chemicals.

The earlier decided projects:

  • The Dow Chemical Company (Midland, Michigan)—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 fatty alcohols as a pathway to biofuels.
  • Amyris, Inc. (Emeryville, California)—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.
  • Research Triangle Institute (Research Triangle Park, North Carolina)—Research Triangle Institute will partner with Arkema and AECOM to investigate the technical feasibility and economic potential, as well as the environmental and sustainability benefits, of recovering mixed methoxyphenols from biocrude as building block chemicals alongside the production of biofuels.

All four projects are supporting 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 through converting biomass to where it is most impactful. Producing value-added co-products is an approach to achieving DOE’s strategic goal of producing hydrocarbon fuels at $3/gasoline gallon equivalent.

The Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) accelerates research and development of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and innovative solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security and economic vitality, while preserving our natural resources. Learn more about how the BETO supports the development of a sustainable, domestic bioenergy industry.

@This article is published by 2017-09-09, edited by Lennart Ljungblom and is based on a press release. BcB is since 2014 a leading news site for bioenergy related business.