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Eugene, OR Dune Sciences, LLC announced May 28, 2008 that it has been awarded a $100,000 Phase I Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a new technology to enable the conversion of forest waste products and other non-food biomass into liquid fuels. Dune will use its proprietary LinkedON(TM) catalysts to tune the molecular-scale properties of reactors used for converting gasified biowaste. If successful, the technology has the potential to facilitate the processing of forest, agricultural, solid municipal waste and other sources of biomass at the point of generation using transportable systems. Dune Sciences will collaborate with Battelle Pacific Northwest Division on this project.
The DoE’s Biomass R&D Technical Advisory Committee has established a goal of replacing 30% of the US petroleum consumption with fuels derived from renewable resources to address the need to reduce US dependence on foreign oil for energy and security independence. In addition, new standards are being established that will require the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector. Biofuels are a potential replacement for the liquid fuels currently used in the transportation sector.
The use of food crops such as corn and soybeans as feedstock for these fuels has raised concerns due to limitations imposed by land and other resources. Moreover, the use of petroleum-based fertilizers to grow these crops has offset the overall reduction in greenhouse gases afforded by their use. One alternate source of feedstock materials for liquid fuels is cellulosic biomass. Cellulosic ethanol and other liquid fuels are derived from the fibrous, woody, and generally inedible portions of plants including agricultural residues such as stalks and straws, forest-based resources, and dedicated energy crops such as switchgrass and hybrid poplars. The resources are abundant, renewable, domestic, and relatively inexpensive. A key challenge to utilizing cellulosic materials is the cost of transporting the raw materials, which accounts for as much as half of the cost of the biomass. This challenge can be addressed through cost-effective approaches to processing at smaller scales to capitalize on the distributed nature of biomass resources. The DOE project awarded to Dune Sciences addresses the development of miniature factories that can be transported to the source of the biomass and accommodate virtually all cellulosic feedstock materials.
“This technology is highly aligned with the need for renewable energy sources, and in particular, liquid fuels, that do not compete with our food supplies. We believe we have a unique cost-competitive approach to this important problem, and this grant will provide us with the opportunity to demonstrate the core properties of our LinkedON technology” said Dr. John M. Miller, CEO and cofounder of Dune Sciences.
Dune Sciences’ LinkedON technology enables the manipulation of materials at the molecular scale to access formulations that are not possible using other approaches. In this project, cellulosic biomass will be gasified and fed into new micro-reactors that are coated with Dune’s LinkedON(TM) catalysts. This approach is expected to be more efficient and more durable than competing technologies.
About Dune Sciences: Founded in 2006 as a spin-out from the University of Oregon, Dune Sciences develops advanced solutions for the characterization and manipulation of materials at the nanoscale. The company’s LinkedON(TM) technology enables the self-assembly and chemical linkage of molecular-scale building blocks into high-value components that can be integrated into a range of manufactured products. Dune’s LinkedON coatings are used in applications ranging from antimicrobial surface treatment to the production of biofuels from cellulosic biomass.
For more information, visit: http://www.dunesciences.com