DOE Issues Funding Opportunity Announcement for Two Congressional Earmarks: Liquid Carrier for Hydrogen and Biodiesel Fuels from Low-Impact Crops

The Department of Energy has issued a Funding Opportunity Announcement (DE-DOA-000380) soliciting applications in the two topic areas: Liquid Carrier Technology for Hydrogen Storage or Delivery; and Biodiesel Fuels from Low-Impact Crops. DOE anticipates selecting one project of two years duration in each area; the maximum award is $500,000 for each project.

The FOA was issued in compliance with Section 506 of the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010 (Public Law 111-85, October 28, 2009). This provides that projects contained in the report of the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives accompanying the Act (H. Rept. 111-203) that are considered congressional earmarks for purposes of clause 9 of rule XXI of the Rules of the House of Representatives, when intended to be awarded to a for-profit entity, shall be awarded under a full and open competition.

Liquid Carrier Technology for Hydrogen Storage or Delivery. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Fuel Cell Technologies Program (FCT) is seeking applications for projects that employ liquid carrier technology as a means of storing or delivering hydrogen.

Only liquid carriers of hydrogen are eligible for this topic. Other fuels or carriers, liquid or otherwise, are not eligible. The liquid carrier must be a liquid at or near ambient temperature and pressure through all stages of hydrogenation/dehydrogenation and must be regenerable. The use of solvating or slurry agents to maintain the liquid state is acceptable but must be included in all material property characterizations. Slurries of solid phase hydrogen storage materials, such as metal hydrides, are out of scope for this topic.

For applications employing a liquid carrier material that has already been developed, the application must include detailed description and characterization of the material itself. Examples of data requested are temperature, pressure and rate (kinetics) of hydrogen release for a given quantity of stored hydrogen, and thermodynamics, kinetics, temperature, and pressure required for material regeneration or hydrogenation. Data demonstrating cycling (e.g., dehydrogenation/hydrogenation cycles) and conditions (temperature and pressure, etc.) under which the carrier stays as a liquid are also requested.

The target market for the liquid carrier technology may include, but is not limited to, the following: storage for light-duty vehicles, buses, distributed electricity generation, back-up power, and material handling equipment; and as a delivery media for these applications. The application must include a description of the target market studied and the accompanying application performance requirements (e.g., hydrogen delivery rates, temperature/pressure, cost, overall efficiency).

If the target market identified is for light-duty passenger vehicles, the applicant must show that their liquid carrier material, when incorporated into a system, has potential to meet DOE performance targets for on-board hydrogen storage systems. For other target markets, the applicant must describe the required operating parameters and challenges that would have to be met in order for the liquid carrier technology to successfully compete with the leading incumbent and emerging technologies.

Biodiesel Fuels from Low Impact Crops. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Office of the Biomass Program is seeking applications for projects that employ low-impact feedstocks for producing biodiesel. Applications for projects undertaking applied research, development, or demonstration, or any combination of these, are eligible. The work scope may include research and development (R&D), scale-up demonstration, or any combination of these, provided that the proposed work scope is commensurate with the available DOE funding and required non-Federal cost sharing.

For the purpose of this FOA, the following definitions apply:

“Biodiesel” is defined as an advanced biofuel produced from fatty acids derived from plant or animal feedstocks using transesterification as the conversion technology.

“Low impact crops” are defined as agronomic crops that can be sustainably produced over an extensive geographic area of the US at a cost that is competitive with other lipid producing crops. Such crops would require a minimum of water, fertilizer, pesticides, energy, and land area and be useful for producing high quality biodiesel fuel. Low impact crops would not be edible by humans and the production of such crops would not cause excessive soil erosion, loss of wildlife habitat, decrease in productivity in other rotational crops produced on the same land, or cause other environmental pollution or health hazards.

It is expected that the successfully completed project under this FOA ultimately will lead to commercialization soon after the project is completed. Regardless of the planned stage or scale for the project, each application must demonstrate a well-defined path to commercialization.

The application must specify the low impact crop that will be used during the project, and include a discussion as to why the crop qualifies as being a low impact crop.

Each application must show how the planned use of the proposed low impact crop and scope of the project fits into the overall, integrated process for commercial production of biodiesel.

The application description must also include an evaluation of the potential replicability of the commercialized process. Applications must include a detailed discussion of the risks and barriers associated with the development of the proposed process and the path to commercialization at other locations. This discussion must include the required operating parameters and challenges that would have to be met in order for the biodiesel produced from a low impact crop to successfully compete with the leading conventional and emerging fuels.

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