The United States Department of Energy (DOE), National Energy Technology Laboratory, in cooperation with the DOE National Petroleum Technology Office, is seeking cost-shared applications for research and development that will lead to the production of ultraclean transportation fuels from fossil resources, alone or in combination with other hydrocarbon materials. The DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy intends to create strategic partnerships targeted at the development of advanced fuel-making processes that utilize fossil feedstocks. These processes will enable the production of ultraclean transportation fuels that improve the environment, while also expanding and diversifying the fossil resource base. According to DOE this solicitation represents a major step toward creating a comprehensive DOE Fossil Energy Ultraclean Transportation Fuels Initiative—with DOE’s petroleum, natural gas and coal programs joining forces to pursue a common strategy. In addition, Fossil Energy is coordinating this and its other fuels efforts with DOE Energy Efficiency, the organization responsible for the engine/vehicle/aftertreatment technologies.

The solicitation is anticipated to be issued in January 2000, and to be open for proposal submission for a 5.5-month period with multiple closing dates. Any resultant awards are expected to be Cooperative Agreement instruments and will require cost sharing of 50 percent or more.


The United States Environmental Protection Agency has proposed Tier II regulations that have prompted a call for stricter limits on sulfur in gasoline and diesel fuels to enable engine manufacturers to meet emissions limits with existing exhaust aftertreatment devices. Due to public demand for a cleaner environment, it is anticipated that the future will bring calls for even stricter tailpipe emissions and fuel specifications. Some petroleum refinery managers believe they can meet the proposed 30 ppm sulfur standard for gasoline. However, the industry as a whole recognizes the enormous infrastructure cost of producing cleaner fuels. Furthermore, the issue of low-sulfur diesel complicates the picture, with refinery managers envisioning the need for advanced new technologies, large capital investments and restructuring of refinery product pools, that will ultimately result in increased fuel prices. At the same time refiners are asked to produce cleaner fuels, the crudes produced in the United States and in neighboring countries are increasingly heavier and higher in sulfur content, while refinery margins are getting smaller.

The "Ultraclean Transportation Fuels" effort will focus on a systems approach to (1) developing fuel-making technologies and (2) testing those fuels to validate improvements in environmental performance without sacrificing operational performance while keeping incremental costs to a minimum. Current activities in fuels processing technology include bioprocessing, synthesis gas conversion, hydroconversion technology, natural-gas-to-liquids processing, coprocessing fossil feedstocks with other hydrocarbon materials to make liquid fuels, and coproducing power and fuels from coal.

DOE expects that in order to achieve the objectives of this solicitation, a project team should incorporate at a minimum: a technology developer that has a technology for producing ultraclean fuel, a producer of feedstock or supplier of fuel, and an engine/vehicle developer or manufacturer that will provide guidance and assist in validating the fuel for use in existing and/or developmental transportation systems.

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