Covanta teams up with Israeli company for biomass project

By Luke Geiver | January 05, 2012

The Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation has brought together a major U.S.-based biomass power entity and an Israeli-based advanced defense systems developer to partner on a biomass-to-fuel mobile system.

Covanta Energy will work with RAFEAL Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. on the project, one of nine recipients in BIRD’s latest round of funding totaling $8.1 million. This is only the third BIRD project since 2002 centered on a biomass source.

“Entrepreneurship and innovation are critical for the economies of both the U.S. and Israel,” said Eitan Yudilevich, executive director of the BIRD foundation. “The nine projects approved are great examples of the added competitive advantage, achievable through the synergy between U.S. and Israeli companies.” Over the course of 34 years, the BIRD foundation has brought together U.S. businesses with Israeli-based firms for projects ranging from electronics to cleantech, investing $290 billion that has created $8 billion worth of sales.

In addition to the grant money, the Covanta-RAFEAL partnership and other recipients will also benefit from access to private sector funding, according to the BIRD Foundation, bringing the recent round of project funding up from $8.1 million to $22 million. The maximum amount of funding awarded by the BIRD Foundation to any one project is $1 million.

Although the biomass project joins a very small group of biomass-based projects since 2002, BIRD Energy, a partnership between the U.S. DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and the Israel Ministry of National Infrastructure, has been around since 2007 and has since given many more renewable energy related projects funding. Projects awarded through the BIRD Energy partnership must follow the same rules and procedures of the BIRD funding protocol. But applicants must also include research and development cooperation between a U.S. and Israel-based company in the fields of solar power, biofuel, advanced vehicle technologies, wind energy and others, all of which must lead to commercialization efforts.

Awarded projects do not have to forfeit any technology or intellectual property rights to the BIRD Foundation, but financial assistance given through the funding is repaid as royalties from sales, according to BIRD. If, however, a project fails to reach commercialization, no reimbursement is required. The U.S. Department of Commerce works with Israel’s Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor to determine the winners of each funding round.

For the next BIRD cycle, the submission deadline for projects is March 14, with project approval expected in June. The next call for proposals from BIRD Energy will be announced in 2012.