Converting Biomass into Renewable Fuels & Chemicals

This program includes the development of thermochemical and biochemical conversion technologies routes to efficiently generate renewable biofuels from two primary feedstock types – lignocellulose and microalgae. Both of these feedstocks have significant promise in terms of displacing fossil fuels, but significant challenges remain that require further research and development.

Co-evolution of Biofuels and Engines

The co-evolution of biofuels and powertrain engines has the potential to cut the time required to bring new sustainable transportation solutions to market. Sandia, in partnership with stakeholders from industry and other national labs, is beginning research into an adaptable framework that will develop biofuels for advanced engines.

Partnerships Drive Technology Maturation

The U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) establishes a clear target for biofuels: 36 billion gallons/year (BGY) by 2022. RFS2 includes a cap of 15 BGY on corn ethanol—leaving a 21 BGY gap that must be met through advanced biofuels generated by converting nonfood biomass, e.g., lignocellulose and algae. Several approaches for converting biomass into advanced, renewable transportation fuels are more compatible than ethanol with today’s existing petroleum-based infrastructure. Sandia has several ongoing internal and external programs in bio- and thermochemically converting lignocellulosic biomass into advanced biofuels.

Joint BioEnergy Institute

A U.S. DOE BioEnergy Research Center in Emeryville, California that is investigating the efficient conversion of lignocellulosic biomass in fuels. Sandia joined Lawrence Berkeley and Lawrence Livermore national labs, the UC Campuses of Berkeley and Davis and the Carnegie Institution of Science in the formation of JBEI.

Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation

Sandia is teaming with scientists, engineers and business executives who are leading the national network of algae testbeds as part of the Algae Testbed Public-Private Partnership (ATP ³) at Arizona State University (ASU). The open testbed and evaluation facilities are a hub for research and commercialization of algae-based biofuels and other biomass co-products.

Algae Raceway Testbed

ATP3-kick-off-mtg-at-ASU-Apr2013Sandia is employing an algae raceway testbed in the Livermore Valley Open Campus as a tool to test new technology and investigate current production challenges facing algae biofuels.

Sandia Research to Be Featured on Upcoming Cover of Journal of Physical Chemistry B

Several Sandia Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) researchers, in collaboration with others in Kentucky and India, have published, “Theoretical insights into the role of water in the dissolution of cellulose using IL/water mixed solvent systems,” which the […]

JBEI Featured in Chemical & Engineering News Cover Article

Researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) are working to transform biomass into energy-rich fuel molecules.

The Chemical & Engineering News article profiles JBEI after it recently filed its 100th patent application and published its 500th […]

Sandia’s Algae Nutrient Recycling Project Is a Triple Win

Nitrogen and phosphate nutrients are among the largest costs in cultivating algae for biofuel production. Sandia molecular biologists (in Sandia’s Systems Biology Dept.) and Ryan Davis (in Sandia’s Biomass Science and Conversion Technology Dept.) have […]

“Bionic” Liquids from Lignin: Joint BioEnergy Institute Results Pave the Way for Closed-Loop Biofuel Refineries

While ionic liquids (paired-ions salts that are liquid at room temperature) show great promise for liberating fermentable sugars from lignocellulose and improving advanced-biofuel economics, an even more promising candidate is now on the horizon—“bionic” liquids.

The […]

Sandia’s bioscience researchers are on the leading edge of scientific discoveries in biofuels, biodefense, and emerging infectious diseases. Our staff members actively publish key findings in peer-reviewed scientific journals so that the entire global community can learn from our discoveries—joining scientific colleagues worldwide in an effort to try to change the world.

  • Transitioning the Transportation Sector: Exploring the Intersection of Biofuels and Electric Vehicles (October 5, 2010)
  • Next Generation Biofuels and Advanced Engines for Tomorrow’s Transportation Needs (November 17-18, 2009)
  • 90-Billion Gallon Biofuel Deployment Study (Executive Summary)