Three Berkeley Lab projects were awarded more than $2 million from the DOE’s Technology Commercialization Fund (TCF) to further collaborative research and development with industry partners on radioactivity detecting technology, next generation electrodes for electrolysis of water, and high performance sustainable aviation fuel. In addition, industry partners are matching the DOE funds for an additional $2 million. A project from the Biosciences Area was among those awarded, funding the scale-up of a high-performance sustainable aviation fuel.
Eric Sundstrom’s research team at the Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts Process Development Unit (ABPDU) will facilitate commercialization of a hybrid biosynthetic and chemical conversion route to make high-performance sustainable aviation fuels. The ABPDU team will refine and apply its innovative off-gas product recovery technology for isoprenol (3-methyl-3-buten-1-ol), which is produced by fermentation using an IP-protected strain developed by the Joint BioEnergy Institute. Isoprenol will be converted to DMCO (1,4 dimethylcyclooctane), using a proprietary process developed by the US Navy and Princeton University. DMCO is superior to conventional jet fuel (Jet-A1) because of its higher gravimetric and volumetric energy density, lower viscosity, improved freezing and flash points, and potential to replace aromatics due to its O-ring seal-swelling abilities.
The award will allow the team to partner with Praj Industries and an aerospace company to scale up to produce 2,000 gallons of DMCO for a test flight in a state-of-the-art business jet. Scale-up will demonstrate feasibility for commercial production, and the test flight will provide market validation of the sustainable aviation fuel. The team believes the technology offers superior performance in a market where renewable fuels and longer flight distances are highly valued.
The Technology Commercialization Fund program managed by the Office of Technology Transitions (OTT) offers an opportunity for private industry to partner with DOE’s national labs to advance lab-developed energy technologies and intellectual property toward commercialization. TCF projects require that half of all project costs come from non-federal sources, including industry. More than $65 million in public and private funding was awarded to a total of 68 projects in this FY21 TCF round. Read DOE’s announcement listing all TCF recipients.