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DOE Announces $61.4 Million for Biofuels Research to Reduce Transportation Emissions

Low-Carbon Biofuels Could Power Airplanes, Ships, and Other Heavy-Duty Vehicles


U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced $61.4 million for technologies that produce low-cost, low-carbon biofuels. Biofuels are derived from renewable resources, and can power heavy-duty vehicles that are difficult to electrify with current technologies—including airplanes and ships—to help accelerate America’s path to a net-zero emissions economy by 2050.

“Biofuels are one of our most promising paths to zero-carbon aviation and shipping, so it’s time to double down on R&D and begin to deploy these technologies at scale,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “This funding is critical for decarbonizing the transportation sector—the largest source of our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions—and delivering good-paying union jobs and clean air and water to American communities.”

Biofuels are produced by converting biomass—made up of recently-living organic materials like crop waste, food waste, and algae—and other waste resources into a liquid fuel, which can serve as a low-carbon equivalent to fossil-based fuels such as gasoline, jet, and diesel fuel. Topic areas for the “Bioenergy Technologies Office Scale-Up and Conversion” funding opportunity include high-impact biotechnology research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) to bolster the body of scientific and engineering knowledge needed to produce low-carbon biofuels at lower cost. This investment will accelerate the deployment of bioenergy technologies and mobilize public clean energy investment in the biofuels, chemical, and agricultural industries, which can lead to new good-paying jobs across the bioenergy supply chain and increased investment in rural economies.

“On behalf of Airlines for America’s member airlines, we applaud Secretary Granholm and the DOE for helping to lead the way to a more energy secure and sustainable future, including through support for the further development and deployment of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF),” said A4A President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio. “We have made tremendous progress in developing safe and environmentally beneficial SAF, and to achieve our recently announced industry goal of having 2 billion gallons of cost-competitive SAF available to U.S. airlines in 2030 as a waypoint for achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, the nascent SAF industry needs just this kind of support.”

DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) is focused on developing technologies that convert domestic biomass and other waste resources into low-carbon biofuels and bioproducts. This research has led to significant cost reduction of the process by approximately 45% to date. BETO is turning its attention to reducing risk of commercialization by partnering with industry to demonstrate technologies at large scale.

The application process will include two phases: a concept paper and a full application. Concept papers are due on April 30, 2021, and full applications are due on June 21, 2021.

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