DOE, USDA announce biomass funding

Posted May 12, 2010, at 8:03 a.m. CST

The U.S. DOE and USDA jointly announced up to $33 million in funding for research and development of technologies and processes to produce biofuels, bioenergy and high-value biobased products, subject to annual appropriations. These projects will support the Obama Administration's comprehensive energy strategy of increasing the nation's energy, economic and national security by reducing our reliance on foreign oil and reducing greenhouse gases.

"These projects will help advance the production of biofuels and related products. Supporting the development of sustainable and renewable biofuels is key to improving our energy security and addressing climate change," said DOE Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Cathy Zoi.

"As the demand for energy rises, Americans need alternative, renewable energy sources," said Roger Beachy, USDA chief scientist and director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. "The innovation and technology that these projects develop will foster a sustainable domestic biofuels industry by broadening the nation's energy sources as well as improving the efficiency of renewable fuels."

USDA and DOE are issuing this joint funding announcement for several types of projects aimed at increasing the availability of alternative renewable fuels and biobased products. The projects will aim to create a diverse group of economically and environmentally sustainable sources of renewable biomass. Advanced biofuels produced from these projects are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a minimum of 50 percent, as determined by the U.S. EPA.

Section 9008(e)(3) of the Food Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 provides direction and guidance on the technical areas addressed by the Biomass
Research and Development Initiative. The technical areas are:

� Feedstocks development
� Biofuels and biobased products development
� Biofuels development analysis

BRDI requires that each proposed project integrate all three of the technical areas. The intent of requiring integration is to encourage a collaborative problem-solving approach to all studies funded under BRDI, to facilitate formation of consortia, identify and address knowledge gaps, and accelerate the application of science and engineering for the production of sustainable biofuels, bioenergy and biobased products.

The funding opportunity is available online at Pre-applications are due July 13, and must be submitted electronically. Applicants who are encouraged to submit full applications will be notified by September 9.

New DOE Video Highlights Impact of Biofuels on Rural Communities

DOE also released a new video which showcases how cellulosic biofuel technologies can help decrease U.S. dependence on foreign oil, spur growth in the domestic biofuels industry, and provide new revenue opportunities to farmers in many rural areas of the country. The video, shot at a harvesting equipment demonstration in Emmetsburg, Iowa, highlights a new way of producing ethanol from the cellulose fibers in corncobs, not from the corn kernels. The technology generates a new opportunity for farmers to harvest and sell the cobs that they'd normally leave in the field. To date, DOE has committed more than $1 billion to 27 cost-shared biorefinery projects.