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DoE’s programme to reduce carbon footprint in biofuel production

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The US Department of Energy (DoE) is awarding $35 million (€29 million) to 15 research projects through the Energy and Carbon Optimised Synthesis for the Bioeconomy (ECOSynBio) programme to decarbonise biorefining processes across the transportation and agriculture sectors.
Many biofuels, including ethanol, biodiesel and other products derived from organic material are almost exclusively produced via fermentation.
These fermentation processes create carbon as a byproduct, with some processes wasting more than a third of this carbon as CO2 emissions.
As a result, there is a critical need to create new pathways for biofuel conversion that reduces carbon waste, prevents the loss of CO2 emissions, and in turn, maximises the amount of renewable fuel a conversion process yields.
The 15 teams receiving awards through the programme will work on the following methods to optimise biofuel manufacturing.
These include carbon-optimised fermentation strains that avoid CO2 waste; engineered organisms that can use a mix of different sources of energy and carbon, and avoid evolving CO2; biomass-derived sugar or carbon oxide gas fermentation with internal CO2 recycling; cell-free carbon-optimised biocatalytic biomass conversion and/or CO2 use; and cross-cutting carbon-optimided bioconversion methods that have the potential for high-impact emissions reductions.
Among the recipients include LanzaTech which will create transformative technology to enable direct conversion of carbon dioxide (CO2) to ethanol, a building block for low carbon intensity fuels and chemicals, at 100% carbon conversion efficiency to products.