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April 30, 2024

Mixed Algae Conversion Research Opportunity Will Award up to $18.8 Million to Address R&D Challenges in Converting Algae to Biofuels and Bioproducts

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

On April 10, 2024, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) and Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM) announced the MACRO: Mixed Algae Conversion Research Opportunity funding opportunity announcement (FOA). According to BETO, the FOA will award up to $18.8 million to address research and development (R&D) challenges in converting algae, such as seaweeds and other wet waste feedstocks, to biofuels and bioproducts that can decarbonize domestic transportation, industry, and communities. BETO notes that the FOA will also support the government-wide targets of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) Grand Challenge, President Biden’s Executive Order on Advancing Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Innovation for a Sustainable, Safe, and Secure American Bioeconomy, and the Clean Fuels & Products Shot™. The FOA will fund selected projects in two focus areas:

  • Topic Area 1 (funded by BETO) — Conversion of Seaweeds to Low Carbon Fuels and Bioproducts will focus on laboratory scale R&D on conversion of seaweeds and seaweed blends with other wet wastes to renewable fuels and bioproducts to enable these readily available feedstocks to access new markets; and
  • Topic Area 2 (funded by FECM) — Conversion of Algal Biomass for Low Carbon Agricultural Bioproducts will focus on near or completely integrated technologies that utilize carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions streams from industrial sources or utilities to grow algae for source material and create value-added bioproducts. Of particular interest is the conversion and processing of bioproducts for use in agriculture and animal feed.

BETO notes that both topic areas contribute to BETO’s strategic goals for SAFs and other low-carbon bioproducts, as well as FECM’s aims to use CO2 emissions to grow algae and convert these feedstocks into low-carbon agricultural bioproducts. BETO states that it anticipates making approximately five to six financial assistance awards lasting from 24 to 36 months under the FOA. FECM intends to award three to four financial assistance awards that will run up to 24 months in length. The FOA concept paper deadline is 5:00 p.m. (EDT) on May 10, 2024, and full applications are due at 5:00 p.m. (EDT) on June 27, 2024. More information on the FOA and how to apply can be found on BETO’s MACRO FOA web page.