The Departments of Agriculture and Energy have jointly announced the availability of up to $30 million over three to four years to support research and development in advanced biofuels, bioenergy and high-value biobased products. The projects funded through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative will help create a diverse group of economically and environmentally sustainable sources of renewable biomass and increase the availability of alternative renewable fuels and biobased products.
In making the announcement, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said these projects will contribute knowledge and technologies that will ultimately help us break our dependence on foreign oil and move our nation toward a clean energy economy that creates jobs and keeps America competitive. Advanced biofuels produced from these projects are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a minimum of 50% compared to fossil fuels and will play an important role in diversifying America's energy portfolio.
"Producing renewable fuels from biomass right here in the United States will improve our nation's energy security and give us an innovative edge in the global market for clean energy technologies," said U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu.
For fiscal year 2011, applicants seeking BRDI funding must propose projects that integrate science and engineering research in three technical areas that are critical to the broader success of alternative biofuels production.
• Feedstock Development
Funding will support research, development, and demonstration activities for improving biomass feedstocks and their supply, including the harvest, transport, preprocessing, and storage necessary to produce biofuels and biobased products.
• Biofuels and Biobased Products Development
Research, development, and demonstration activities will support cost-effective technologies to increase the use of cellulosic biomass in the production of biofuels and/or biobased products. Funding will also support the development of a wide range of technologies to produce various biobased 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 analytic tools that improve the sustainability, environmental quality, cost effectiveness, security, and rural economic development of renewable biomass technologies. Funding will also be used to develop new tools to better evaluate the impact 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 biobased products.
The agencies are also looking for projects that demonstrate the use of biodiesel in farming equipment and processing facility operations used to produce grain and/or cellulosic ethanol.