White House Pumping New Funds Into Biofuel R&D

The Obama administration has announced up to $35 million in new funding over three years to support research and development (R&D) in advanced biofuels, bioenergy and other bio-based products.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the projects funded through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) – a joint program by the USDA and U.S. Department of Energy – will help develop economically and environmentally sustainable sources of renewable biomass and increase the availability of renewable fuels and bio-based products that can help replace the need for gasoline and diesel in vehicles and diversify the country's energy portfolio.

‘Investing in next-generation biofuels helps boost the competitiveness of the U.S. biofuels industry, supports economic development in rural communities, and creates skilled jobs for American workers,’ says Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

For fiscal year 2012, applicants seeking BRDI funding must propose projects that integrate science and engineering research in the following three technical areas related to alternative biofuels production:

Feedstock development: Funding will support R&D and demonstration activities for improving biomass feedstocks and their supply, including the harvest, transport, preprocessing, and storage necessary to produce biofuels and bio-based products.

Biofuels and bio-based products development: R&D and demonstration activities will support cost-effective technologies to increase the use of cellulosic biomass in the production of biofuels and bio-based products. Funding will also support the development of a wide range of technologies to produce various bio-based products, including animal feeds and chemicals that can potentially increase the economic viability of large-scale fuel production in a biorefinery.

Biofuels development analysis: Projects will develop analytical tools to better evaluate the effects of expanded biofuel production on the environment and to assess the potential of using federal land resources to sustainably increase feedstock production for biofuels and bio-based products.

Subject to annual appropriations, the USDA and DOE plan to contribute up to $35 million over three years for this year's BRDI solicitation. This funding is expected to support five to seven projects over three to four years, according to the USDA.

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