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U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu has announced the investment of nearly $80 million under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for advanced biofuels research and fueling infrastructure that will help support the development of a clean sustainable transportation sector. The selections–two biofuels consortia for up to $78 million to research algae-based and advanced biofuels–are part of the Department’s continued effort to spur the creation of the domestic bio-industry while creating jobs.
“Advanced biofuels are crucial to building a clean energy economy,” said 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.”
Two cross-functional groups will seek to break down critical barriers to the commercialization of algae-based and other advanced biofuels, such as green aviation fuels, diesel, and gasoline that can be transported and sold using today’s existing fueling infrastructure. The selected projects consist of leading scientists and engineers from universities, private industry, and government, and will facilitate sharing expertise and technologies.
The two consortia selected for funding are:
National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts (NAABB) ($44 million): Led by the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center (St. Louis, Missouri), NAABB will develop a systems approach for sustainable commercialization of algal biofuel (such as renewable gasoline, 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 fuel 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 $33.8 million): Led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, NABC will conduct cutting-edge research to develop infrastructure compatible, biomass-based hydrocarbon fuels. The result will be a sustainable, cost-effective production process that maximizes 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 process, with full lifecycle analysis to measure the environmental benefits.
Collectively, these consortia will be matched by private and non-federal cost-share funds of more than $19 million for total project investments of over $97 million.
Secretary Chu also announced the selection of eight infrastructure projects to receive up to $1.6 million to support expanded fueling infrastructure for ethanol blends. The projects will expand ethanol blends infrastructure at existing retail fueling locations in nine 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 $3.9 million in non-federal cost-share funds, for total projects investments of $5.5 million.
Read Biofuels and Bioenergy: Processes and Technologies from Amazon.