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DoE: almost US$80m for biofuel research and fuelling infrastructure

The Department of Energy (DoE) has announced almost US$80 million under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for advanced biofuel research and fuelling infrastructure to support the development of a clean sustainable transportation sector.

The selections announced – two biofuel consortia for up to US$78m to research algae-based biofuel – are part of DoE’s continued effort to spur the creation of the domestic bioenergy industry while creating jobs.

“Advanced biofuels are crucial to building a clean energy economy,” says Secretary Chu. “By harnessing the power of science and technology, we can bring new biofuels to the market and develop a cleaner and more sustainable transportation sector. This investment will help spur the creation of the domestic bio-industry, while creating jobs and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.”

The two biofuel consortia selected for funding are:

National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts (NAABB) (US$44m):

Led by the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, St. Louis, Missouri, NAABB will develop a systems approach for sustainable commercialisation of algal biofuel (such as renewable petrol, diesel, and jet fuel) and bioproducts.

NAABB will integrate resources from companies, universities, and national laboratories to overcome the critical barriers of cost, resource use and efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions, and commercial viability.

It will develop and demonstrate the science and technology necessary to significantly increase production of algal biomass and lipids, efficiently harvest and extract algae and algal products, and establish valuable certified co-products that scale with renewable biofuel production. Co-products include animal feed, industrial feedstocks, and additional energy generation. Multiple test sites will cover diverse environmental regions to facilitate broad deployment.

National Advanced Biofuels Consortium (NABC) (up to US$33.8m):

Led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, NABC will conduct research to develop infrastructure compatible, biomass-based hydrocarbon biofuel.

The result will be a sustainable, cost-effective production process that maximises the use of existing refining and distribution infrastructure. NABC will investigate a variety of process strategies and down select to those closest to larger scale demonstration. The NABC plans to further develop these strategies to deliver a pilot-ready biofuel process, with full lifecycle analysis to measure the environmental benefits.

Collectively, the biofuel consortia will be matched by private and non-federal cost-share funds of more than US$19m for total project investments of over US$97m.

Biofuel infrastructure projects

Secretary Chu also announced the selection of 8 infrastructure projects to receive up to US$1.6m to support expanded fuelling infrastructure for ethanol blends.

The biofuel infrastructure projects will expand ethanol blends infrastructure at existing retail fuelling locations in 9 states: Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.

The projects plan to install E85 pumps, retrofit existing pumps to dispense E85, and install blender pumps that offer ethanol blends up to 85% at over 60 stations. Collectively, the projects propose creating at least 45 E85 dispensers and 16 blender pumps along key driving corridors and areas with higher concentrations of flexible fuel vehicles.

The infrastructure projects will be matched with US$3.9m in non-federal cost-share funds, for total projects investments of US$5.5m.

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