Berkeley Lab’s ABPDU can convert biomass into advanced biofuels in sufficient quantities for engine testing.

Photo courtesy of Berkley Lab

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) opened its new Advanced Biofuels Process Demonstration Unit (ABPDU) at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) this week.

The 15,000 square-foot facility located in Emeryville, Calif., is designed to help expedite the commercialization of advanced next-generation biofuels by providing industry-scale test beds for discoveries made in the laboratory, according to a Berkley Lab news report.

The ABPDU will feature pre-treatment of biomass capabilities and bioreactors for the production of microbial or fungal enzymes that can break down biomass into fermentable sugars. The facility will also have substantial capabilities for fermentation or further conversion of sugars into advanced biofuels, along with the capacity to purify these fuels, the report says.

The design capacity of the ABPDU is 45-to-90 kilograms/day for biomass pretreatment and 11-to-20 liters per day for biofuels production. These quantities are sufficient for engine testing, the Berkley Lab report says.

The ABPDU is operated with funds from DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (ERRE) through its Office of the Biomass Program. The ABPDU also received $20 million in funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Under the terms of the EERE award, Berkeley Lab is slotted to receive an additional $3 million a year to operate the ABPDU that will be open to a variety of institutions and organizations, both within and outside of DOE, that are involved in biofuels research and development.

Major use of the ABPDU is expected from researchers with DOE’s three Bioenergy Research Centers (BRCs). In addition to its role in demonstrating the viability of proposed biofuels production technologies, the ABPDU will also serve the interests of basic research in the key new scientific fields of biotechnology, the report said.

To read the full Berkley Lab news article and view a video of the new ABPDU, click here.