US Department of Energy


Date of this Version



A HITEC Workshop, November 17-18, 2009, San Ramon, California.


In November 2009, Sandia National Laboratories hosted the Next Generation Biofuels and Advanced Engines for Tomorrow’s Transportation Needs Workshop. The event focused on the combined opportunities in biofuels and engines in the transportation sector. The workshop brought together the DOE Combustion Research Facility and the DOE Joint BioEnergy Institute along with oil companies, biofuel developers, engine manufacturers, suppliers, and experts from the university, regulatory, finance, and national laboratory communities. The intersection of biofuels and engines, if properly scaled, can meet a triad of national goals:

• Reduced climate impact

• Economic development

• Energy security through energy diversity

The workshop identified opportunities for codevelopment of biofuels and engines, it addressed roadblocks to success, and it outlined joint biofuel and engine R&D needs. Over two days, participants underscored a series of key attributes that the community must address to make introducing next generation biofuels a reality in the transportation sector. These attributes can be summarized as the need for:

Clean, Sustainable, Compatible, Liquid, Fuels

• Clean. Next generation biofuels might be oxygenates, blended constituents, or drop-in replacements. Their combustion, however, must not increase Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designated criteria pollutants, nor can these biofuels introduce other air and water contaminants.

• Sustainable. Based on a thorough life cycle analysis, the CO2 footprint of biofuels must be lower than the petroleum-based fuels that are being displaced.

• Compatible. The need for compatibility has multiple dimensions. First, the biofuel should be compatible with both current and future engine designs, including any aftertreatment and fuel storage components on board the vehicle. Second, the biofuel should be compatible with the current distribution infrastructure as well as future infrastructures that may evolve. Compatibility with the current fuel industry infrastructure will accelerate the introduction of alternatives.

• Liquid. The driving force for biofuels is to displace petroleum feedstocks. The goal is to both reduce the CO2 footprint and allow for enhanced security through diversity and choice in fuel sources. Liquid petroleum products are attractive in internal combustion engines due to their energy density (volume and weight). Next generation biofuels must be of the same or higher energy density.

• Fuels. To make a significant impact on the transportation energy sector, a path to scale-up of next generation biofuels must be included in the research, development, and deployment planning. Business models that address scaling to significant quantities are critical.

General Observations

The workshop recognized three important issues surrounding the development of biofuels:

• The definition of fungible or drop-in fuels (DIF) needs to be clarified. The framework for fungible fuels development is not clear, nor have the fuel and engine communities fully vetted the options.

• Fuel specifications can become the bridge between engines and biofuels. Both gasoline and diesel engine designers need to provide greater specificity to the fuels development communities, both for near-term and for future engine concepts.

• An integrated biofuels and engines research program is key. Today two separate DOE program offices fund research on biofuels and advanced engine concepts. A consolidated research program would accel