The US Department of Energy (DOE) has this week announced its investment of $34m into 11 university and industry-led projects, seeking to progress biofuels and other biopower products for use in the aviation and maritime industries.
These sectors have typically faced greater obstacles to decarbonisation, as electrification technology is not applicable to large-scale vessels. Deploying biofuels as a replacement to traditional fossil fuels is therefore seen as the key to reducing emissions in these industries, and the DOE has identified biofuels as having a pivotal role in achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Biomass for this purpose is typically derived from municipal solid waste (MSW) streams and algae, producing organic feedstocks.
“From food waste to yard trimmings, biomass technology is converting our everyday trash into low-carbon fuel for planes and ships while cutting costs and supporting our critical transportation sector,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm in a statement. “The companies and universities leading these projects will ensure that our cutting-edge biofuel technologies reduce carbon emissions, create new jobs up and down the supply chain, and are made in America by American workers.”
Under the new funding, projects will look to develop energy conversion projects, as well as streamline algae farming practices to boost uptake of the biofuel.
The transportation industry currently accounts for around 30% of total US energy consumption, and contributes the largest share to the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. Decarbonising the sector is a key part of the Biden-Harris administration’s efforts to cut back on carbon
“Converting waste into resources relies on continued scientific advancement and innovation to overcome the technological and economic limitations that stand in the way of lasting change,” said Dr. Bryan Staley, President & CEO of the Environmental Research & Education Foundation in the same release. “Through these projects, DOE’s significant commitment to waste conversion will move the needle substantially.”