US to ‘double down’ on biofuel R&D

15 April 2021 | Muriel Cozier

‘…the nascent SAF industry needs just this kind of support.’

The US Department of Energy (DoE) has announced funding of $61.4 million for research into technologies that will produce low-cost, low-carbon biofuels. The DoE said that the focus is to provide clean fuels for those sectors that are difficult to electrify with current technologies.

The ‘Bioenergy Technologies Office Scale-Up and Conversion’ funding will include biotechnology research, development and demonstration to bolster the body of scientific and engineering knowledge needed to produce low-carbon biofuels at reduced costs. The DoE added that the investment will accelerate the deployment of bioenergy technologies, and mobilise public clean energy investment in the biofuels, chemical and agricultural industries.

US Secretary of Energy Jennifer M Granholm said; ‘Biofuels are one 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. This funding is critical for decarbonising the transportation sector…and delivering good-paying union jobs and clean air and water to American communities.’

Research funded by the DoE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO), has led to a reduction of some 45% in the cost of turning domestic biomass and other waste resources into low-carbon biofuels and bioproducts. BETO is now focusing on reducing the risk of commercialisation by partnering with industry to demonstrate technologies at scale.

The DoE’s investment was welcomed by the US aviation sector trade body, Airlines for America, which said that it was just the kind of support needed. ‘We have made tremendous progress in developing safe and environmentally beneficial sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). And to achieve our recently announced goal of having 2 billion gallons of cost-competitive SAF available to US airlines in 2030, as a waypoint for achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, the nascent SAF industry needs just this kind of support.’

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