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NREL Co-Leading New Consortium for R&D of Biomass Supply and Conversion Technologies, Announces Funding Opportunity

December 21, 2017

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), as co-leader of the new Feedstock-Conversion Interface Consortium (FCIC), issued a Directed Funding Opportunity (DFO) to accelerate innovation and adoption of new practices and technologies to determine the root cause of biomass handling failures and to design solutions.

FCIC, which will oversee the DFO, is an integrated and collaborative network of eight U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories dedicated to identifying and overcoming technical uncertainty in research and development of robust biomass supply, preprocessing, and conversion technologies. With funding from DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO), FCIC’s mission is to improve the overall operational reliability of integrated biorefineries (IBRs).

Currently, inconsistent feeding, handling, and initial conversion operations at IBRs are some of the biggest challenges in the conversion of biomass to fuels and chemicals. The purpose of the DFO is to facilitate R&D to understand the root causes of feed handling failures and develop technologies to increase the on-stream operational reliability of biorefineries by providing industry partners with access to the FCIC resources network. Interested industry or academia are encouraged to submit research proposals, in collaboration with national labs, to address the most pressing industrial feedstock handling, preprocessing, and conversion challenges related to feedstock chemical, physical, and mechanical variability. Applications are due January 31; more information and instructions can be found at the FCIC website.

FCIC is led by NREL and Idaho National Laboratory, and includes Argonne National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories. FCIC was officially launched at a kickoff meeting at NREL on December 11, where BETO and industry and academic stakeholders reviewed the consortium’s research goals and provided recommendations to ensure the FCIC is focused on solving industry-relevant problems.

“We have assembled an industry advisory board with at least 100 years of combined experience trying to figure out these problems. They know what works and has not,” said Michael Resch, a bioconversion specialist at NREL and one of the consortium co-leads. “We have a great opportunity to leverage the expertise and facilities at the national labs to deliver solutions to current problems plaguing the burgeoning industry. Our goal is to determine the fundamental chemical and physical properties that contribute to feed handling and preprocessing failures through basic science.”

The consortium’s collaborative research efforts will be crucial to the success of advanced biofuels and will help the emerging U.S. bioeconomy grow stronger, thus reducing dependence on foreign energy sources and improving energy security, enabling agricultural development, and enhancing the economy with domestic job creation. Learn more at the FCIC website.