Biomass-Based Fuel Supplements

The Department of Energy (DOE) has announced up to $15 million available to demonstrate biomass-based oil supplements that can be blended with petroleum, helping the United States to reduce foreign oil use, diversify the nation’s energy portfolio, and create jobs for American workers.
Known as “bio-oils,” these precursors for fully renewable transportation fuels could be integrated into the oil refining processes that make conventional gasoline, diesel, and jet fuels without requiring modifications to existing fuel distribution networks or engines.
The Department expects to fully fund between five to ten projects in fiscal year 2012 to produce bio-oil prototypes that can be tested in oil refineries and used to develop comprehensive technical and economic analyses of how bio-oils could work. The proto-type bio-oils will be produced from a range of feedstocks that could include algae, corn and wheat stovers, dedicated energy crops or wood residues.
 Domestic industry, universities, and laboratories are all eligible to apply.
The results of the projects will inform future efforts directed at advancing bio-oil technologies and bringing these renewable fuels to market. A description of the funding opportunity, eligibility requirements, and application instructions can be found on the Funding Opportunity Exchange website under Reference Number DE-FOA-0000686.
The Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) accelerates development and facilitates deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality. Learn more about EERE’s work with industry, academia, and National Laboratory partners on a balanced portfolio of research in biomass feedstocks and conversion technologies.
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4 thoughts on “Biomass-Based Fuel Supplements

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  2. Comment on the above topics.

    Algal Biofuels
    R&D Activities

    The Biomass Program manages its algae R&D portfolio as a feedstock pathway. These activities are integrated with the Program’s longstanding approach to commercialize lignocellulosic biofuels.

    The Biomass Program helps break down critical technical barriers and promote sustainable, affordable, and scalable algae-based biofuels. Activities the Program funds aim to systematically address these barriers along the algae biofuel supply chain to eventually produce economically viable renewable aviation fuel, diesel, and gasoline that can be transported and sold using today’s existing fueling infrastructure.

    Algal Biofuels Consortia Initiative

    In recent years, the Biomass Program rapidly expanded the scope of its algae biofuel research, development, and demonstration activities. To hasten and maximize the impact of its efforts, the Program developed the Algal Biofuels Consortia Initiative. This unique, multi-institutional, and multi-disciplinary approach accelerates algal biofuels technology development by creating public/private partnerships between universities, national laboratories, and industry. The consortia address many facets of the algae biofuels supply chain and are constructed to facilitate technology transfer between researchers and commercial partners using prenegotiated intellectual property arrangements. In addition, all awards leverage private sector investments of 20% or higher in cost-share contributions.

  3. The ultimate aim is to produce cheap, high-quality biofuel. Oils extracted from algae consist of triglycerides, whereby three fatty acid chains are linked to a glycerol backbone. This long molecule does not burn well in an engine, so it must be broken up into its constituent fatty acids and glycerol. The chemical reaction is called transesterification or alcoholysis and it requires methanol. Three moles of methanol are required for each mole of triglyceride. This produces one mole of glycerol and three moles of methyl esters. Since it is an equilibrium reaction, methanol is provided in excess, a catalyst is used and heat drives the reaction towards producing methyl esters. Yields of methyl esters exceed 98% by weight. Possible catalysts include acids, alkalis and lipases. Alkali catalyzed transesterification is carried out at 60°C, only 5°C below its boiling point at atmospheric pressure. Methanol and oil separate into different phases.

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