DOE to Fund Mixed Algae and Wet Waste Feedstocks R&D

 Seagriculture EU 2024
Mixed Algae and Wet Waste Feedstocks

The DOE’s Mixed Algae Conversion Research Opportunity intends to enable greater volumes of sustainable aviation fuel.

The US Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) and Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM) have announced their intent to issue funding to support research and development projects for converting algae and other wet waste feedstocks into low-carbon fuels, chemicals and agricultural products. The intended Mixed Algae Conversion Research Opportunity (MACRO) funding plans to address gaps in the use of carbon dioxide (CO₂), conversion technologies, and product development that limits the use of wet algal feedstocks.

While these feedstocks are an emerging resource, they are underutilized and are difficult to convert due to their variability, unique chemical make-up, and storage instability. Overcoming conversion challenges to working with these feedstocks will help build supply chains, accelerate their demand, and ultimately enable greater volumes of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and the use of CO₂ to grow algae in the future.

Seaweeds (macroalgae) are a biomass resource with unique benefits compared to land-based biomass systems. A wide range of feedstocks, such as seaweed, microalgae, and other wet waste feedstocks, will be needed to achieve the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of an equitable, clean energy future of net-zero emissions, economy-wide, by no later than 2050. This intended Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) will support these goals, as well as the government-wide targets of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge and Executive Order on Advancing Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Innovation for a Sustainable, Safe, and Secure American Bioeconomy.

The planned funding opportunity will meet BETO’s strategic goals for SAF, other low-carbon products, and decarbonizing communities, as well as FECM’s desire to use CO₂ emissions to convert macroalgae and microalgae into low-carbon agricultural products, such as animal feed. The potential FOA will seek to achieve the above outcomes by focusing on the following topic areas:

  • Topic Area 1: Conversion of Seaweeds and Waste Algae to Low Carbon Fuels and Products
    Topic Area 1 intends to address gaps in storage, mobilization, and conversion of seaweeds and other wet algal feedstocks to low-carbon products and enable these readily available feedstocks to access new markets. Applications are sought that will develop laboratory or bench scale technologies and/or processes for utilizing: macroalgae, blends of macroalgae and wet wastes, and/or wet algal wastes for conversion to fuels and products with nationally significant potential to displace fossil greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Topic Area 2: Conversion of Algal Biomass for Low Carbon Agricultural Products
    The goal of Topic Area 2 is to utilize carbon dioxide emissions streams from utilities or industrial sources to grow algae for source material and create value-added products. Applications are sought that use anthropogenic (fossil fuel derived) carbon dioxide emissions to be used in the algae cultivation process and then convert those macro- and/or microalgae into low-carbon agricultural applications or products such as animal feed. Applications are encouraged to focus on optimization of the technologies and processes for the conversion of cultivated algae biomass to products and clearly describe the end use products targeted.

The intended FOA is expected to be released in March 2024 and could include up to $18.8 million in federal funding. BETO and FECM envision awarding multiple financial assistance awards for R&D activities in the form of cooperative agreements lasting approximately two to three years. View the NOI on EERE Exchange for more information on applicant eligibility and registration requirements. The full solicitation with additional information on applicant eligibility is also available on Go to BETO’s funding announcement page for other upcoming funding opportunities.

Teaming Partner List

BETO has compiled a Teaming Partner List to encourage collaboration and facilitate the formation of project teams. The list allows organizations wishing to apply for funding to explore partnering with other prospective applicants. Partnerships can provide additional expertise and resources to successfully meet FOA goals.

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