DOE’s ARPA-E awards $35 million to 15 biofuel projects

On May 14, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $35 million in funding that will help slash carbon emissions and scale up the volume and efficiency of renewable biofuel. The 15 awarded research projects, housed at colleges, universities, and labs across nine states, will advance new technologies to decarbonize biorefining processes used across the energy, transportation, and agriculture sectors.

The awards are supported by DOE Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy’s (ARPA-E) “Energy and Carbon Optimized Synthesis for the Bioeconomy” (ECOSynBio) program.

“Biofuel is a powerful tool in the clean energy toolkit that has immense potential to power our ships and airlines with zero carbon emissions. DOE is investing in research to reduce emissions and maximize the availability of efficient biofuel as we strive to reach President Biden’s net-zero carbon goals.”

Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm

Biofuels, which include ethanol, biodiesel and other products derived from organic material (biomass), is almost exclusively produced through a conversion process called fermentation. These fermentation processes create carbon as a byproduct, with some processes wasting more than 1/3 of this carbon as CO2 emissions. As a result, there is a critical need to create new pathways for biofuel conversion that reduce carbon waste, prevent the loss of CO2 emissions maximize the amount of renewable fuel a conversion process yields.

The 15 teams will work to optimize biofuel manufacturing through:

  • carbon optimized fermentation strains that avoid CO2 waste;
  • engineered organisms that can use a mix of difference sources of energy and carbon, and avoid evolving CO2;
  • biomass-derived sugar or carbon oxide gas fermentation with internal CO2 recycling;
  • cell-free carbon optimized biocatalytic biomass conversion and/or CO2 use; and
  • cross-cutting carbon-optimized bioconversion methods that have the potential for high-impact emissions reductions.

The awardees are:

  • INvizyne Technologies, Inc. (Monrovia, CA)
  • LanzaTech, Inc. (Skokie, IL)
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA)
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory (Golden, CO)
  • Ohio State University (Columbus, OH)
  • Stanford University (Stanford, CA)
  • The Wyss Institute at Harvard University (Boston, MA)
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison (Madison, WI)
  • University of Delaware (Newark, DE)
  • University of California, Davis (Davis, CA)
  • University of California, Irvine (Irvine, CA)
  • University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, MN)
  • University of Washington (Seattle, WA)
  • ZymoChem, Inc. (San Francisco, CA)* Two awards

Read more about the funded projects on the ARPA-E website

It could soon be illegal for Sauget company to burn group of chemicals linked to cancer

Read the full story in the Belleville News-Democrat.

It could soon be illegal for Illinois companies to incinerate a class of potentially cancer-causing substances known as “forever chemicals” because they accumulate in the body and environment without breaking down.

A bill to ban burning the chemicals — known as PFAS, or per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances — passed the General Assembly over the Memorial Day weekend. It was awaiting Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s signature as of Tuesday and would go into immediate effect.

Southwestern Illinoisans who live with poor air quality have raised concerns for years that an incinerator in Sauget operated by hazardous waste disposal company Veolia could burn PFAS, which is found in common household items and in firefighting foam used by the Air Force to extinguish aviation fuel fires.

3,000 shipping containers fell into the Pacific Ocean last winter

Read the full story in The Revelator.

A rise in container-ship accidents adds to the growing marine plastic pollution problem and poses risks to ocean health, wildlife and mariners.

Climate Mayors Green and Equitable Recovery

Download the document.

The United States faces a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address the challenges of rebuilding economies, promoting racial justice, and reducing emissions while building for a more resilient, sustainable future. But it will take careful policy and planning to make this a reality. This Climate Mayors report, co-authored by RMI, lays out proven solutions for a green and just economic recovery in cities across the United States, while highlighting examples of local success.

Climate Mayors Green and Equitable Recovery presents key policy priorities in the mobility, buildings, and electricity sectors, as well as exploring nature-based solutions. This includes success stories from cities across the country; these tangible examples show how cities can advance economic recovery and promote equitable outcomes by prioritizing investments with multiple benefits and transforming city infrastructure and built environments towards a more sustainable future.

This report synthesizes key takeaways from Climate Mayors’ National Dialogue on Green and Equitable Recovery Series. The report can serve as both an inspiration and a guide for city administrations and elected officials to help build back better, as well as policymakers and other decision makers at the state and federal level to help them prioritize future investments.

Climate ‘tipping points’ need not be the end of the world

Read the full story from the University of Exeter.

The disastrous consequences of climate ‘tipping points’ could be averted if global warming was reversed quickly enough, new research suggests.

EPA watchdog calls for improved enforcement presence after decade-long decline

Read the full story in The Hill.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Inspector General identified a decline in enforcement activity within the agency from fiscal 2007 through fiscal 2018 in a report released Thursday.

In the report, the inspector general said the decline was primarily the result of resource constraints and leadership decisions within the agency. Those decisions included shifting resources to major cases and, as of 2017, deferring to state agencies on enforcement, according to the report.

Navigating internal politics to ‘get it done’

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Show the value of ESG within the context of leadership’s biggest concern of the moment, or how it builds on their greatest success, and leadership will listen.

This hoodie is 100% carbon negative

Read the full story in Fast Company.

The typical “carbon negative” product involves a manufacturer buying carbon offsets to, say, protect forests—something that can be tricky to get right and that doesn’t eliminate the fact that making the product added CO2 to the atmosphere. A new carbon-negative wool hoodie is different: The process of making the hoodie is actually beneficial, removing more carbon from the atmosphere than it creates.

Brown County, Indiana library considering switching to solar energy

Read the full story in the Brown County Democrat.

The Brown County Public Library is exploring the possibility of erecting an array of solar panels in the median of the library’s lower parking lot in an effort to take advantage of utility incentives and renewable energy technologies, and to cut electricity expenses by up to 98 percent.

Pollinator-friendly solar system completed at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Read the full story at Solar Power World.

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign marked the completion of its 12.3-MWdc solar farm by planting native pollinator habitat on the 54-acre site.

The project is the second solar farm constructed at the U of I and achieves clean energy sustainability goals outlined in the university’s Illinois Climate Action Plan, nearly four years ahead of schedule. Clean energy production will now support approximately 12% of the school’s annual electricity demand.

The solar site will serve as a demonstration and research location for pollinator-friendly solar arrays. The solar array exceeded the required 85 minimum points established by the state’s Pollinator Friendly Solar Site Act, achieving a “Provides Exceptional Habitat” status.