The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award up to a total of $3 million to projects (1) to develop and to test novel technologies for the economical and environmentally-sustainable conversion of coal-biomass feedstocks to liquid transportation fuels (CBTL) and (2) to assess concepts and evaluate the feasibility of building and operating a commercial scale CBTL production facility.
The Funding Opportunity Announcement () for the awards is soliciting applications for R&D in two specific Areas of Interest: laboratory scale liquids production and assessment; and a feasibility study for a coal-biomass to liquids facility.
A recent National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) study indicated that addition of moderate amounts of biomass to coal for the production of liquids can substantially reduce Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) CO2 emissions relative to a petroleum diesel baseline. As an example, 20% less CO2 is produced with 8% biomass addition, with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) with CO2 utilization.
Laboratory Scale Liquids Production and Assessment. Projects in this area are to convert coal-biomass feedstocks to liquid transportation fuels at a rate approximating 2 liter/day or higher. For this FOA, liquid transportation fuels are defined as liquid-naphtha or diesel blends—alternative fuels such as hydrogen, methane/SNG and alcohol products are not being considered under this area of interest.
Selected projects will be required to demonstrate liquids production on a laboratory scale from low-level biomass and coal feedstock mixtures (optimal range 8-15% agricultural biomass, dry weight % basis). The conversion approach may include direct (liquefaction) or indirect (synthesis gas FT chemistry) processes.
Conversion via a substitute natural gas (methane) intermediate; Catalysis R&D; and co-generation with power are all excluded from consideration for this FOA.
Applicants for the awards must define and submit in the application planned downstream processes for converting crude products to desired-range hydrocarbons. The chemical composition of the coal/biomass-derived liquids will be determined in order to assess the property differences from liquids produced from a coal-only feed.Applicant are also to conduct a general analysis of the comparative process economics of the evolved coal-biomass-to-liquids process relative to a coal-only process. Applicants will be required to provide finished liquid product samples (1 liter minimum) as a final deliverable under the agreement.
Feasibility Study for a Coal-Biomass to Liquids Facility. This area of interest seeks feasibility studies for the development, construction and operation of a US site specific, greenfield, integrated commercial sized CBTL plant. The key focus of the study will be the business development, cost estimate, and economic sensitivity analysis of a commercial facility using cost, performance and operating data from existing and available technology.
Sensitivity studies are to include, but are not limited to, evaluation of competing technologies, feedstock variation and product mix. Major feedstocks are limited to coal and agricultural biomass (biomass level of 8-15 dry weight % basis), with a minimum plant size of 10,000 barrels-per-day (BPD). Plant data may be obtained from published reports, commercial vendors, existing commercially-available process units or operation data from large-scale pilot plants. The study should include evaluation of various U.S. sites and sources of feedstocks.Deliverables from these projects are to include, but are not limited to, the following: 1) Description of the proposed facility and process, including major processing units; 2) Discussion on the technology readiness level (TRL), with a supporting preliminary process flow diagram; 3) Plant cost estimate broken down; 4) Economic sensitivity analysis which includes a summary of the major financial and project assumptions, including a sufficient break-down of the annual operating requirements and cost; and 5) Discussion of the execution plan, including but not limited to issues related to feedstock supplies, site acquisition, product off-takes, and permitting.
DOE estimates two awards for Area of Interest 1, and 2-3 awards for Area of Interest 2.