DOE announces funding to advance bioenergy technology

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The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced $178 million for bioenergy research to advance sustainable technology breakthroughs. The funding focuses on projects that aim to improve public health, help address climate change, improve food and agricultural production, and create more resilient supply chains. 

This funding will support cutting-edge biotechnology R&D of bioenergy crops, industrial microorganisms, and microbiomes. Alternative clean energy sources like bioenergy are playing a key role in reaching President Biden’s goal of a net-zero carbon economy by 2050. 

US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm comments: ‘Producing cheaper energy from organic materials — like plants, food, and waste — keeps money in the pockets of energy consumers and prevents carbon pollution from reaching the atmosphere. These projects will continue to advance the boundaries of biotechnology and support the emergence of a thriving US bioeconomy that creates good-paying jobs and helps us meet our climate goals.’

By discovering, understanding, and harnessing nature’s capabilities, The DOE aims to address a broad range of topics related to sustainable bioenergy development. This includes the production of sustainably grown crops for bioenergy and bioproducts to tackle climate change. 

The biotechnology funding supports: 

  • Research on renewable bioenergy and biomaterials production to develop new bioproduction platforms, including research on systems and synthetic biology, computational modeling on bioenergy crops, industrial microbes and algae, and microbial communities. (Funding amount: $99.7 million) 
  • Quantum-enabled bioimaging and sensing for bioenergy to develop state-of-the-art instruments and biological sensors that will advance research on plant and microbial systems relevant to bioenergy and environmental research. (Funding amount: $18 million) 
  • Research to characterise gene function in bioenergy crop plants to facilitate development of new bioenergy feedstocks with traits tailored for bioenergy and bioproduct development. (Funding amount: $27.4 million) 
  • Understanding the role of microbiomes in the biogeochemical cycling of elements in terrestrial soils and wetlands genomics-based and systems biology research. (Funding amount: $33 million) 

The projects were selected by competitive peer review under four DOE Funding Opportunity Announcements sponsored by the Biological and Environmental Research program within the Department’s Office of Science: Biosystems Design to Enable Safe Production of Next-Generation Biofuels, Bioproducts, and Biomaterials; Quantum-Enabled Bioimaging and Sensing Approaches for Bioenergy; Systems Biology Enabled Microbiome Research to Facilitate Predictions of Interactions and Behavior in the Environment; and Genomics-Enabled Plant Biology for Determination of Gene Function

Total funding is $178 million for projects lasting up to five years, with $47 million in the Fiscal Year 2022 dollars. The list of projects and more information can be found here.