ARPA E Biomass

Five of the recently selected and funded ARPA E projects were for biomass energy

* Conditionally activated enzymes expressed in cellulosic energy crops
* Scaling and Commercialization of Algae Harvesting Technologies
* Catalytic Biocrude Production in a Novel, Short-contact Time Reactor
* MacroAlgae Butanol
* High Yielding, Low Input Energy Crops

Conditionally Activated Enzymes Expressed in Cellulosic Energy Crops

Agrivida, Inc. will develop an innovative technology to produce ‘masked’ cell wall degrading enzymes within the plant itself that can be activated after harvest, dramatically reducing the cost of cellulosic biofuels and biochemicals. The technology will help establish a sustainable market for non-food biomass resources to bolster the development of biorefinery jobs and commerce and create carbon neutral transportation fuels.

Agrivida is developing varieties of switchgrass, sugarcane, sorghum, corn, and other energy crops for the production of environmentally friendly chemicals, fuels, and bioproducts. By enabling the production of cheap sugars from this non-food, cellulosic biomass, Agrivida’s energy crops and processing technology can reduce costs by over 30% for these industrial biotechnology products.

Because Agrivida’s energy crop varieties produce their own enzymes, the cellulosic biomass can be broken down with less severe pretreatments and without addition of exogenous enzymes. The end result: a significant reduction in the cost of chemicals, fuels, and bioproducts. By using domestic, non-food biomass, Agrivida’s products can replace petroleum utilization, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and enhance the rural economy.

Scaling and Commercialization of Algae Harvesting Technologies

Univenture, Inc. / Algaeventure Systems will develop a harvesting system that dramatically reduces the energy cost necessary to harvest, dewater, and dry algae by using a novel absorbent moving belt harvester. The technology offers the potential to transform the economics of algae-based biofuel production by removing a major barrier to large scale commercialization.

Univenture’s algaeventure system

Algaeventure was covered on Nextbigfuture back in March 2009

Algae Ventures claims to have a method of lowering the cost for harvesting, dewatering, and drying algae by Over 99.75%.

Catalytic Biocrude Production in a Novel, Short-Contact Time Reactor

RTI International (Research Triangle Park, NC) will work with ADM, Albemarle and Conoco Philips to develop a novel single-step catalytic biomass pyrolysis process with high carbon conversion efficiency to produce stable bio-crude “oil” with low oxygen content. The technology seeks to combine pyrolysis oil production, stabilization, and upgrading into one process, creating the potential to reduce the demand for imported oil and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by displacing fossil fuels with biofuels.

MacroAlgae Butanol

DuPont (Wilmington, DE) and Bio Architecture Lab, Inc. will develop a commercially viable process for the production of bio-butanol, an advanced biofuel, from seaweed (macroalgae). Seaweed is a potentially sustainable source of biomass for the production of fuels, expanding and building opportunities for bio-butanol as a fuel and fuel extender.

High Yielding , Low Input Energy Crops

Ceres (Thousand Oaks, CA) has discovered several genes that control nitrogen uptake, assimilation, and storage, resulting in significantly increased biomass accumulation and reduced fertilizer requirements. They will develop a technology to provide low-cost, stable, and sustainable feedstocks sufficient to meet the needs of the bioenergy sector. The technology will enable reliable, full-scale feedstock supplies to displace oil and coal for biofuel and biopower production, respectively and be produced from less land, lower quality land, and at lower cost than standard energy crops.