Open Innovation Challenges

Open Challenges
Woody Biomass

Problem
Woody Biomass is today an underutilized resource for reuse in other products, especially in the case of biomass considered “non-merchantable.” Finding novel ways to increase the value of products created from woody biomass, or, reduce the cost and/or increase the safety of woody biomass collection could benefit utilities, landowners, and communities and citizens across California.
Desired properties
Optimize for the highest value per mmBTU
High-value products, either for energy production or non-energy purposes

Woody Biomass

Problem
PG&E alone trims and removes more than 1 million trees near its wires across its territory each year to mitigate wildfire risk, and as many as 15 million acres of California forests need some form of restoration. Finding novel ways to reduce the cost and/or increase the safety of woody biomass collection could benefit utilities, landowners, and communities and citizens across California.
Desired properties
Supports a cost of collection cost of under $15 per Bone Dry Ton
Enables moisture reduction on location or reduces the amount of pretreatment drying needed if sent to a gasifier

Woody Biomass

Problem
Transportation of woody biomass from a collection site to either a concentration/feedstock yard or to a conversion facility accounts for roughly 25% to 50% of the total delivered cost. Densification and moisture reduction can be important in reducing transportation costs, and most existing densification technologies are prohibitively expensive.
Desired properties
Increases bulk density of woody biomass for transportation
Delivered cost below $5/mmBTU to a location roughly 50 miles away
Reduces moisture content to below 15%

Building Material

Problem
Until today, the vast majority of building construction has utilized foam plastics (i.e. EPS and XPS) or mineral wool for thermal insulation.
Desired properties
Commercially available in 3 to 5 years
Produced from biological / natural processes

Building Material

Problem
The service life of architectural coatings significantly impacts building maintenance costs.
Desired properties
Cost does not exceed that of currently available top-quality coatings (i.e. $0.30 per square foot)

Building Material

Problem
The practice of utilizing multiple layers of sheathing in wall assemblies to achieve required levels of fire resistance is costly, and in fact it provides the bare minimum amount of protection in the event of a growing fire.
Desired properties
Enhanced sheathing provides air and moisture barrier functionality
Water drainage capacity

Building Material

Problem
Multiple components are generally needed to perform all the “barrier” jobs necessary (air, water, vapor, fire, sound, and thermal).
Desired properties
Materials that provide superior properties such as structural support and wind load resistance
Innovative wall assemblies that take advantage of prefabrication and modular construction