Biofuels and Biobased Products


Contact Dr. Toby Ahrens, NPL for SBIR Biofuels and Biobased Products at or (202) 401-6050 regarding questions about the suitability of research topics or to arrange a telephone consultation.


The objective of this topic area is to promote the use of non-food biobased products and biofuels by developing new or improved technologies that will lead to increased competitiveness of value-added products from agricultural materials. This research will lead to new opportunities to diversify agriculture and enhance agriculture’s role as a reliable supplier of raw materials to industry. Historically, appropriate research areas have included: development of improved technology for converting agriculturally derived raw materials into useful industrial products; development of new products from new industrial crops; and improving the effectiveness or cost-competitiveness of industrial products derived from agricultural materials in comparison to non-agriculturally derived products. In order to enhance the impact of the program, acceptance of applications will be limited to select Research Priority Areas. This topic area supports the NIFA Strategic Plan Goal 1 Science: Catalyze exemplary and relevant research, education and extension programs; SUB-GOAL 1.4: Contribute to U.S. energy independence and enhance other agricultural systems through the development of regional systems for the sustainable production of optimal biomass (forests and crops) for the production of bioenergy and value-added bio-based industrial products.

FY2018 Priority Research Areas

Examples of appropriate subtopics for research applications from small businesses include, but are not limited to, the following:

1. New Non-food Biobased Products from New Industrial Crops

Identification of markets and development of new biobased products and processes from new industrial crops or microbes. These products should be economically competitive and have environmental sustainability benefits compared to similar products on the market.

2. New Processes for the Manufacture of Industrial Products, Chemicals, or Biofuels

New processes for the production of biobased industrial products, chemicals, or biofuels that will be competitive with the cost and performance of equivalent petroleum-based products. Support for biofuel projects includes the sustainable conversion of crops and agricultural residues into biofuels (conventional, cellulosic, or advanced biofuels) or coproducts that will improve the economic feasibility of production of those biofuels. Technologies must seek to minimize adverse environmental impacts such as energy use, water use, harmful byproducts, and life cycle carbon emissions in comparison to incumbent products.

Other Key Information

  • Applications that include software development or other data-intensive technologies are encouraged to apply for topics related to the Priority Research Areas listed above.
  • Applications that deal with developing value-added biofuels (including ethanol) and biobased products from forest biomass should be sent to the 8.1 Forest and Related Resources topic area.
  • Applications that deal with developing biofuels and bioenergy that will improve the sustainability of small and mid-size farms should be sent to the 8.12 Small and Mid-Size Farms topic area.
  • Applications that deal with the genetic improvement or production of biomass feedstock crops except for woody biomass and algae should be submitted to the 8.2 Plant Production and Protection – Biology topic area.
  • Applications that deal with the genetic improvement, production, or feedstock logistics of woody biomass feedstock crops should be submitted to the 8.1 Forest and Related Resources topic area.
  • Applications that deal with the genetic improvement, production, or feedstock logistics of photosynthetic algae should be submitted to the 8.7 Aquaculture topic area.
  • Applications that deal with the engineering aspects of the planting, production or post-harvest handling of biomass feedstock crops should be submitted to the 8.13 Plant Production and Protection – Engineering topic area.
  • Animal manure and carcass waste are considered acceptable feedstocks for applications to the 8.8 Biofuels and Biobased Products topic area.
  • Microbial approaches must demonstrate a credible path to industrially-relevant conversion rates, yields, and titers.

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