Biogas Upgrading and Waste-to-Energy
NREL's waste-to-energy (WTE) team seeks pathways to use biomass waste feedstock—primarily methane from current waste treatment processes—to recover energy and produce fuels and chemicals. We focus on techno-economic analysis and the research and development required for upgrading biogas to fuels and high-value co-products.
Bioconversion of methane to lactate by an obligate methanotrophic bacterium, Scientific Reports (2016)
Bioconversion of Natural Gas to Liquid Fuel: Opportunities and Challenges, Biotechnology Advances (2014)
Biogas Potential in the United States, NREL Fact Sheet (2013)
Methane Conversion to Liquid Fuels and Chemicals Using a Methanotrophic Biocatalyst
NREL is working to valorize biogas and natural gas through the development of biological methane upgrading strategies, targeting conversion of methane to liquid fuels and chemicals. Research activities for these multi-institutional projects encompass strain development, high-productivity gas fermentation process development, product recovery and upgrading, and techno-economic analysis.
Contact: Michael Guarnieri
We inventory WTE feedstocks—waste fat, oil, and greases; municipal solid wastes; biosolids (from wastewater treatment facilities); biorefinery residues and biogas—and work to address feedstock data gaps and quality issues, inventory feedstock characteristics, and estimate the biofuels potential from these resources.
Contact: Anelia Milbrandt
Waste-to-Energy Techno-Economic Analysis
We perform techno-economic analysis (TEA) for converting waste feedstocks to power, fuels, and bioproducts to compare different conversion pathways for utilizing waste materials, as well as to support the renewable energy mission, provide economic variability, environmental sustainability, and support decision-making at different levels.
Contact: Ling Tao
Waste-to-Energy System Simulation Model
NREL's waste-to-energy system simulation model is designed to develop and analyze scenarios that explore the evolution of the waste-to-energy industry and determine how WTE fuel technologies may be deployed in such a way that they make a significant contribution to the country's transportation energy.
Contact: Danny Inman
Related and Integrated Programs
WTE Combustion, Gasification, and Anaerobic Digestion On-Site Evaluation
Argonne National Laboratory (Life-Cycle and Sustainability Analysis)
North Carolina State University
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (Analysis and Sustainability Interface)
San Diego State University
University of North Dakota Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) with Lockheed Martin (Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program [SERDP] projects, PI Kim Magrini)
University of Washington
This program is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Energy's Bioenergy Technologies Office.