New Round of DOE Funding Looks to Commercialize Biofuel-Combustion Engines


The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has selected four projects totaling $1 million to conduct research and development concerning the interaction between biofuels and combustion engines. 

The projects will leverage a range of National Laboratory capabilities as part of the Co-Optimization of Fuels & Engines (Co-Optima) initiative and aim to help bring these fuel-engine combinations closer to commercial adoption. The Co-Optima initiative provides scientific knowledge needed to maximize vehicle performance and efficiency, leverage domestic fuel resources and reduce life cycle emissions.

DOE awarded funding to the following projects:

  • Aramco Services Co., Marathon Petroleum Co. and Caterpillar will work with Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) to identify bio-blendstock characteristics (including carbon number and molecular structure) that will provide the best 87 anti-knock index gasoline for heavy-duty gasoline compression ignition engines.
  • The Coordinating Research Council will work with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) to develop an isotope ratio mass spectrometry method as a cost-effective means to identify renewable content in co-processed biomass- and fossil-derived fuels.
  • Cummins will work with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to develop a deeper fundamental understanding of how physical and chemical fuel properties affect mixing-controlled compression ignition combustion in medium-duty engines through computational fluid dynamics simulations.
  • Shell will work with ORNL and ANL to quantify how fuel volatility can be used to increase anti-knock performance in order to increase engine efficiency and the use of biomass-derived fuels.

Each awardee will receive up to $250,000 in National Laboratory assistance for experimental or computational projects that leverage innovative capabilities in the areas of bioblendstock fuel property, production and combustion performance research. The projects will also focus on the impacts of the adoption of co-optimized fuel-engine combinations. Each of the awardees has committed to a 20% cost-share contribution.

Sponsored by the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy’s (EERE’s) Vehicle Technologies and Bioenergy Technologies Offices, Co-Optima partners include ANL, LANL, PNNL, ORNL, Idaho National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories – as well as more than 20 university and industry partners.

EERE is focused on decarbonizing the transportation sector, the single largest source of domestic greenhouse gas emissions. EERE’s work in boosting fuel economy and vehicle performance – while reducing emissions – is central to the energy and climate goals laid out by President Joe Biden – building a 100% clean energy economy and reaching net-zero emissions no later than 2050.   

To learn more about the Co-Optima initiative and Co-Optima consortium partners, click here.

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