Call for Proposals
BioFuelNet Call for Proposals (Deadline extended until December 1, 2013)
Comprehensive Canada-wide long-term trials of various energy crops
BioFuelNet Canada (BFN) is a multi-disciplinary network funded by the federal Network of Centres of Excellence (NCE) program, focussing on four biofuel-related themes: Feedstock, Conversion, Utilization and Social, Economic & Environmental Sustainability (SEES). The present call for proposals falls within the Feedstock theme.
To inform BFN’s stakeholders of the best sources of biomass available for biofuel production, BFN aims to initiate long-term dedicated energy crop growth trials in three geographic locations in Canada. BFN is requesting applications from qualifying applicants and their partners (see Section 8 for details). Successful applicants’ projects will be integrated into one of BFN’s multi-disciplinary technology platforms, and ultimately be paired with the most appropriate conversion process. Successful applicants will be expected to actively participate in their assigned technology platforms.
2. Grants available
There are three $200,000 grants available; each grant provides $50,000 per year for 4 years (2014-2017). One grant will be allocated per selected climate zone (see Section 4 below).
3. Goals of the trials
The trials will provide BFN and its stakeholders with data on potential sources of biomass available for use as feedstocks in either biological or thermo-chemical conversion processes. The ultimate goal will be for BFN to identify the optimal combination of feedstock and conversion technologies for the production of liquid biofuels. Properties to be monitored and reported upon include:
- Details of land/soil quality, preparation and harvest
- Irrigation rates and moisture content of biomass
- Rates of growth, yields, residues, removal rates (dry tonnes per hectare)
- Cost and/or value ($ per dry tonne) in local markets
- Quantities and cost of inputs (water, fertilizer, herbicides/pesticides/fungicides, fuel, etc.)
- Post-harvest logistics
- Other properties, to be determined on a per-project basis
Successful projects will work closely with BFN’s Social, Economic, and Environmental Sustainability (SEES) theme to provide trial data to perform in-depth lifecycle and economic analysis.
4. Project areas and topics
The trial will involve establishing agriculture and agro-forestry plots and monitoring their progress in three of the following Canadian climate zones, selected to enable a pan-national perspective:
1. South British Columbia mountains
2. Northwestern forest
4. Northeastern forest
5. Great Lakes and St. Laurence
6. Atlantic Canada
The targeted crops will be planted in all three selected Canadian climate zones; however, specific genotypes of the promising crops that are known to be region-specific may be planted in just one or more regions. All crops must minimize competition with food and feed. BFN has identified the following target crops for particular interest for investigation:
1. Biomass grass crop (e.g. switchgrass, Miscanthus)
2. Multi-purpose (biomass/co-products) crop (e.g. Camelina, flax, hemp)
3. Biomass tree species (e.g. hybrid poplar, willow)
While at least 75% of BFN grant funds will be directed towards these crops, other promising crops will also be considered.
The crops will be grown in both monoculture and intercropping (i.e. alley cropping of the grass/multi-purpose crops between rows of trees). Proponent must have access to an area of land large enough to accommodate these trials and that is available for at least 4 years. To decrease the issue of food-quality land being diverted to biofuel feedstock production, the test sites should not be on high productivity sites and target “marginal land” which, for the purposes of these studies is Agricultural Capability Class 3 or 4 land (see http://sis.agr.gc.ca/cansis/nsdb/cli/classdesc.html).
5. Eligible expenses
Expenditures of BFN grant funds are subject to the conditions of the three granting councils, NSERC, SSHRC and the CIHR. Therefore, project teams may wish to partner with organizations willing to contribute land, fuel, seed, and otherwise cover non-eligible expenses. Typically, a minimum of 60% of BFN grants funds must be spent on stipends for highly qualified personnel (HQP, or students), but variances may be granted by BFN if sufficiently justified in the letter of intent.
6. Structure of project teams and eligibility
Applicants are encouraged to build on existing initiatives and projects where appropriate. Applicants are expected to engage suitable partners, from private industry, government and/or other organizations, to ensure sufficient resources are available to produce the desired results. BFN is particularly supportive of research that has clear evidence of user-involvement in the formulation, support and conduct of the research itself. Special consideration will be given to projects that receive support from external partners (via letters of support that identify in-kind and/or cash support).
Researchers and organizations that intend to receive BFN funding must meet the general eligibility conditions of NSERC, SSHRC and the CIHR. Investigators that intend to receive NCE funding are limited to involvement on a maximum of two Letters of Intent.
BFN Feedstock theme co-leaders, Drs. Kevin Vessey and Shawn Mansfield, will be the primary coordinators of projects selected for funding. Grantees will work collaboratively with Drs. Vessey and Mansfield, and with the grantees at the other field sites across the country. Active collaboration with coordinators of the regional technology platforms which include experts in conversion, utilization and sustainability will also be expected.
The trial plots are primarily intended to deliver data pertaining to biomass accrual on various biogeoclimatic regions in Canada over a 4-year period. In so doing, the sites should be readily accessible to all BFN scientists for assessment (as long as the activities do not interfere with the biomass trials). The accessibility and management of the trial sites will be regulated centrally, and all data generated from the trials will be stored in a common database, which is currently under development centrally.
8. Application procedure
Applicants must submit:
1) A short letter of intent (LOI)
2) Supporting letters (indicate cash and in kind contributions, and how the company benefits from the research)
3) Proposed project budget (Click here to download Excel template)
4) NSERC CV or the equivalent
The Letter of Intent should be a maximum of three pages long, single-spaced (no more than 6 lines per inch), Times New Roman, regular 12 point font (or comparable font, nothing smaller), margins 0.75” all around. One additional page can be used to define the composition and qualifications of the proposed research team. References, if included, can be provided on one separate page. Pages should be numbered and there should be a header including name of lead PI and the Project Title.
Letters of Intent should include the following:
- Target species/genotypes; area available for planting
- Outline of research approach; description of cropping techniques and desired outcomes
- User involvement and external partnerships
- Qualifications and expertise of the research team
- Approximate budget (by year), using BFN’s budget template
Applications must contain the four items above and be received by email (in PDF format, except project budget) by 5 pm Eastern Standard Time on Monday, December 1, 2013. Please email to: email@example.com with “BFN CALL FOR PROPOSALS” in the subject line.
Letters of Intent will be reviewed and assessed by BFN’s Research Management Committee (RMC). Evaluation of the Letters of Intent and recommendations for the solicitation of full proposals will be forwarded to BFN’s Board of Directors and final solicitation of full proposals will take place in late October 2013. Full proposals will be due by late November with funding decisions expected to be communicated by January 2014. Financial awards should be in place by March 2014.
The criteria for the review of the proposals will be:
1. Merit of the proposal
2. Excellence of the project team
3. Project structure and support
4. Contributions to the training of highly qualified personnel