The United States’ Department of Energy (DOE) chose 68 different projects to fund working up to the amount of $30 million USD three projects are expected to speed up the adoption of innovative bioenergy and biofuel technologies in the marketplace, as they pull a combined $750,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Technology Commercialization Fund (TCF) and funds from the private sector. The TFC is working with the support of partners in 25 states and four countries.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)’s scientists and industry partners are expecting huge benefits from three new projects currently in the works that focus on commercializing bioinsecticides, enzymatic CO2 utilization, and cell-free biocatalysis; in hopes to lead to a more sustainable farming sector.
“Our TCF strategy is focused: connect our experts with American businesses and entrepreneurs to commercialize bio-based technologies that are better for our environment and economy,” said Robert Baldwin, NREL principal scientist. “Such close partnerships are essential for moving energy innovations from the lab into the real world.”
By joining DOE funding with private investment at equal proportions, the TCF allows NREL’s researchers to focus on energy technologies that will help achieve commercial impact. Even if the three projects apply to different aspects of the bioeconomy, together they emphasize the benefits of investing in bio-based technologies.
1.Low-Cost and Low-Carbon Bioinsecticides From Biofuel Refineries:
This project awarded 100,000 USD focuses on the study of the efficiency, process, and composition of bioinsecticides made from refinery outputs otherwise inapt fuel-making, through thermochemical conversion of biomass. According to the team, a bio-based insecticide could have a carbon footprint 88% lower than other average products and be produced at a fraction of the costs. Ensyn, from Canada, and Marrone Bio Innovations, from California, are key partners in this endeavor.
2.Carbonic Anhydrases for Sustainable, Low-Energy CO2 Capture, Utilization, and Storage:
Enzymes are capable of capturing, managing, and even upgrading CO2 released from power plants and heavy industry. Awarded $250,000 USD, scientists on this project are working to advance the development of carbonic anhydrase enzymes, which catalyzes the conversion of CO2 into bicarbonate. By achieving and scaling the technology the team aims to promote the efficient and scalable capture of CO2. The partner in this project is Novozymes North America, North Carolina.
3.More Affordable Enzymes for Cell-Free Biocatalysis:
Microbes are excellent at converting the carbon in biomass into a range of biochemicals using specialized enzymes. However, scientists think it could be more efficient if conducted outside of the microorganism, especially if the enzymes are engineered for industrial use to produce target chemicals and products, reducing protein production costs. A team of scientists will identify and develop the best enzymes and approaches for lowering the cost to implement such “cell-free” biocatalysis. Awarded 400,000 USD and in partnership in this project is Invizyne Technologies, from California.
The complete list of all 68 projects can be found here.