By Jon H. Harsch
© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.
WASHINGTON, April 15 – The Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Energy (DOE) announced Friday they are providing up to $30 million over three to four years for research and development in advanced biofuels, bioenergy and high-value biobased products to reduce U.S. oil imports. The projects funded through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) are intended to “create a diverse group of economically and environmentally sustainable sources of renewable biomass and increase the availability of alternative renewable fuels and biobased products.”
A joint USDA/DOE statement explains that “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.”
“Since taking office, the President has clearly articulated the goal to ensure a cleaner, safer and more secure energy future,” Agriculture Secretary 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.”
“These projects will help to reduce America's dependence on imported oil by accelerating the development and commercialization of cleaner, alternative fuels that can power our vehicles and our industry,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said. “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.”
For fiscal year 2011, applicants seeking BRDI funding must propose projects that integrate science and engineering research in the following three technical areas that are critical to the broader success of alternative biofuels production:
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.
Integrating multiple technical areas in each project will encourage collaborative problem-solving approaches, enable grantees to identify and address knowledge gaps, and facilitate the formation of research consortia. The agencies are also seeking projects that demonstrate the use of biodiesel in farming equipment and processing facility operations that are used to produce grain and/or cellulosic ethanol.
Subject to annual appropriations, USDA plans to invest up to $25 million with DOE contributing up to $5 million for this year's Biomass Research and Development Initiative. This funding is expected to support five to ten projects over three to four years. For information on the solicitation, eligibility requirements, and application instructions at the FedConnect website, click HERE, and click HERE for grants information for grant DE-FOA-0000510. Note that pre-applications are due by May 31 and must be submitted electronically.
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