Contact Us
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Hydrogen and Higher Hydrocarbons from Organic Waste Streams

Please Note that a Letter of Intent is due Tuesday, September 08, 2015 5:00pm ET Program Area Overview Office of Basic Energy SciencesThe Office of Basic Energy Sciences (BES) supports fundamental research to understand, predict, and ultimately control matter and energy at the electronic, atomic, and molecular levels in order to provide the foundations for new energy technologies and to support DOE missions in energy, environment, and national security.  The results of BES_supported research are routinely published in the open literature. A key function of the program is to plan, construct, and operate premier scientific user facilities for the development of novel nanomaterials and for materials characterization through x_ray and neutron scattering; the former is accomplished through five Nanoscale Science Research Centers and the latter is accomplished through the world’s largest suite of light source and neutron scattering facilities.  These national resources are available free of charge to all researchers based on the quality and importance of proposed nonproprietary experiments. A major objective of the BES program is to promote the transfer of the results of our basic research to advance and create technologies important to Department of Energy (DOE) missions in areas of energy efficiency, renewable energy resources, improved use of fossil fuels, the mitigation of the adverse impacts of energy production and use, and future nuclear energy sources.  The following set of technical topics represents one important mechanism by which the BES program augments its system of university and laboratory research programs and integrates basic science, applied research, and development activities within the DOE. For additional information regarding the Office of Basic Energy Sciences priorities, click here.  TOPIC 11. Hydrogen and Higher Hydrocarbons from Organic Waste Streams Maximum Phase I Award Amount:  $150,000 Maximum Phase II Award Amount:  $1,000,000 Accepting SBIR Phase I Applications:  YES Accepting SBIR Fast_Track Applications:  NO Accepting STTR Phase I Applications:  YES Accepting STTR Fast_Track Applications:  NO  Organic waste streams, including, but not limited to, food and beverage wastewaters, municipal wastewater, livestock manure slurries, the non_recyclable fraction of municipal solid waste, and biogas produced from any of the above, contain substantial amounts of chemical energy. Since these resource streams are biogenic in origin, energy produced from them can be considered renewable, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has done in granting eligibility to fuels produced from these sources for cellulosic Renewable Identification Numbers.[1] While some of the available energy is currently being captured, a significant amount remains untapped.[2_4] The potential to produce fuels and power from waste streams has gained interest in recent years, including concepts, such as ?energy_positive water resource recovery? facilities, which produce clean water, energy, and nutrients from municipal wastewater[5]; Integrated Biorefineries[6]; and Combined Heat, Hydrogen, and Power fuel cell projects.[7] Certain families of biologically_based technologies have the potential to improve the economic viability of energy recovery from these resource streams. These technologies, such as microbial electrochemical technologies (MxCs) (e.g., microbial fuel cells and microbial electrolysis cells) or anaerobic membrane bioreactors, offer significant potential not only to reduce or eliminate current wastewater treatment steps that require large energy inputs, but also to produce readily usable fuels and product precursors. While specifics will vary by subtopic, the following criteria will apply to all applications: –        Proposed systems must utilize organic waste streams as the primary feedstock to produce fuels.  Wet waste streams are defined in the Bioenergy Technologies Office Multi_Year Program Plan.[8] For purposes of this Small Business Innovation Research topic, biogas is included within the definition of organic waste streams. –        Applications should identify potential commercial applications and relevant waste streams. By Phase II, and preferably within Phase I, proposed projects should employ actual (rather than model or synthetic) waste streams as feedstocks. Partnerships with relevant suppliers/sources of environmental/civil engineering expertise are highly encouraged. –        Successful applications will propose to develop and run pilot systems by the end of Phase II, at a relevant scale (e.g., 100?1,000 L reactor volume).  –        Applications must address the energy efficiency of the system. Successful applications will minimize the ratio of required energy inputs to the energy potential of proposed outputs. Lower Heating Value is one possible measure, but applicants may propose other metrics. –        Projects that contribute to and/or leverage the development of fundamental scientific knowledge in areas, including, but not limited to, interspecies electron transfer, improved understanding of heterogeneous biological communities, and advances in toolkit development in terms of proteomics, metabolomics, transcriptomics, and other related areas are of particular interest. –        Higher hydrocarbons are generally defined as including at least three carbon molecules. However, novel approaches for the production of syngas from eligible feedstocks may be considered, particularly if the application includes conversion of the syngas to a higher hydrocarbon. Proposals that produce ethanol or methanol as a final product will be considered non_responsive, although both of those substances are acceptable as process intermediates.  Grant applications are sought in the following subtopics:  a. Production of Hydrogen and Electricity from Organic Waste Streams In this subtopic, the U.S. Department of Energy is seeking novel research and development (R&D) to develop MxCs (e.g., microbial fuel cells and microbial electrolysis cells) that can produce hydrogen or electricity from waste streams. MxCs have shown promise at the bench scale in producing electricity, hydrogen, and higher hydrocarbons, but challenges remain for commercial applications.[9_11] The systems should either clean wastewaters or reduce the disposal requirements of other waste feedstocks.  Applications should propose R&D that addresses barriers to the commercial application of MxCs; a number of barriers and R&D needs were identified in the 2013 Biological Hydrogen Production Workshop Summary Report,[12] and discussed in the presentations of the recent Hydrogen, Hydrocarbons, and Bioproduct Precursors from Wastewaters Workshop.[13] The proposed systems should be capable of either producing at least 4 L/Lreactor/day hydrogen, or generating excess electricity after taking into account required system energy inputs (e.g., pumping requirements).   Questions ? Contact: Katie Randolph, katie.randolph@ee.doe.gov b. Production of Higher Hydrocarbons from Organic Waste Streams The U.S. Department of Energy?s Bioenergy Technologies Office is interested in harnessing biological pathways to produce biofuel and bioproduct precursors from wet organic waste streams as enumerated in the first sentence above. Proposals that utilize algae, even if grown on wastewater, and dry waste streams, such as corn stover, will be considered non_responsive. Within the targeted domains, the following several pathways are possible:     a.     Arresting the methanogenesis stage in anaerobic digestion in order to produce higher_value biofuel and bioproduct precursors    b.     Employing biological mechanisms to utilize both the CO2 and methane from biogas in the production of higher_value products    c.      Exploring applications of synthetic biology that allow for the introduction of high_value pathways into organisms relevant to industrial scale production    d.     Investigating phylogenetic families other than bacteria.  Carbon efficiency is a primary consideration. Applications will be evaluated on their probability of maximizing utilization of the biogenic carbon available in relevant resource streams.  In all cases, the Bioenergy Technologies Office is interested in projects that present the possibility of producing commercially relevant and economically competitive higher hydrocarbons from biogenic sources as a replacement for petroleum. Examples include, but are not limited to, butanol, 1,4_butanediol, and long_chain fatty acids, such as succinic, muconic, and lactic acids.  Questions ? Contact: Dan Fishman, daniel.fishman@ee.doe.gov c. OtherIn addition to the specific subtopics listed above, the Department invites grant applications in other areas that fall within the scope of the topic description above.  Questions ? Contact: Dan Fishman, daniel.fishman@ee.doe.gov

Contact Us
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.