287657 Substantial Involvement by DOE to Address Scale-up Challenges for Biorefineries

Friday, November 2, 2012: 8:30 AM
334 (Convention Center )
Gene R Petersen, Office of the Biomass Program, United States Department of Energy, Golden, CO

Authors:              Gene Petersen1, Glenn Doyle1,2, Art Wiselogel3, Carol Babb4 and Andras Marton5.

Substantial Involvement by DOE to Address Scale-up Challenges for Biorefineries

Since 2003, the Department of Energy has been substantially nvolved in cost-sharing the development of biorefinery operations to process biomass feedstocks into transportation fuels and bioproducts.   Over thirty projects have been supported ranging in scale from engineering, pilot, and demonstration to  commercial demonstration operations.   Under direction of public law, the Department was authorized to  “…carry out a program to demonstrate the commercial application of integrated biorefineries[1].”  Under that mandate, the Biomass Program within the Department of Energy solicited applications from the community to develop integrated biorefineries at these various scales.  An oft voiced criticism is that the federal government tries to pick winners.  This presentation is designed to provide an overview of the careful selection process employed to meet the mandates of public law and how the Department developed project management methodologies and procedures to address the challenges of scale-up and completion of these projects.  Clearly, there have been failures due to issues both within the control of the projects or totally outside the control of the project or DOE.   However,  the overall benefit of the federal partnerships with industry and the biomass community will be discussed along with the practices and processes used to help both recipients of federal funds and the Department of Energy achieve  successful  development of integrated biorefineries.  These include the following:

  • Adaptation and implementation of DOE O 413.3B, Program and Project Management for the Acquisition of Capital Assets to the management of process intensive, capital projects rather than facilities ,
  • Use of an industrial consulting firm, Independent Project Analysis, Inc. to assess project readiness and risk profiles,
  • Use of the services of an independent Engineering firm, RW Beck, a division of SAIC to help review applications and monitor progress for selected projects,  and
  • Use of good, established project management practices based on resources such as PEMBOK. 


  1. US Department of Energy, Office of the Biomass Program within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
  2. Presenting
  3. CNJV, Support Contractor to the Office of the Biomass Program
  4. RW Beck, Independent Engineers to the Office of the Biomass Program
  5. Independent Project Analysis, Inc.

[1] Energy Policy Act 2005, §932.

Extended Abstract: File Uploaded
See more of this Session: Demonstration Scale Biorefining-Scale up Challenges
See more of this Group/Topical: Sustainable Engineering Forum