On May 6, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced $90 million in funding for the design and construction of integrated biorefineries, through the Financial Opportunity Announcement “Project Development for Pilot and Demonstration Scale Manufacturing of Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biopower.” The funding will be directed towards pilot and demonstration scale production of biofuels from cellulosic, algal and biogas feedstocks, as well as the production of biopower or biofuels from waste water treatment and other organic wastes.
Eligible feedstocks are those that are domestically available and could sustainably provide 50 million dry tons of cellulosic biomass per year. Feedstocks may include cellulosic biomass (such as corn stover, rice and wheat hulls, as well as perennial grasses and short rotation woody trees), algal biomass (fed by cellulosic sugars and other non-food sources), biogas, industrial waste gas (such as from natural gas or coal-fired power), wastewater treatment sludge, and organic food wastes (from industrial, consumer, residential sources). An integrated biorefinery mimics the process of a petroleum refinery, creating not just biofuels but biopower and heat, as well as biobased chemicals and products.
Projects must demonstrate that the biofuels will qualify as advanced or cellulosic biofuels, which must meet a 50 and 60 percent reduction in lifecycle greenhouse gases (GHG) as compared to gasoline. Bioproducts and biopower projects are not required, but encouraged, to also meet significant GHG reductions and demonstrate an improvement in lifecycle GHGs when compared to similar fossil technologies and products.
In related news, the USDA/DOE jointly administered Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) announced $10 million in research awards through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). The research projects will focus on increasing the efficiency of biofuels production as well as improvements to feedstock growth, harvesting and collection.
Funded NIFA projects include sorghum production in the Mid-Atlantic at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center of North Carolina, poplar conversion to ethanol and plastics at the University of California-Riverside, and bioenergy from Ponderosa pine feedstocks at the University of Montana, Missoula.
For more information see:
Energy Department Announces Funding for Design and Construction of Manufacturing of Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biopower, U.S. DOE