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Grants Awarded for Biomass Research and Development

Switchgrass (Agricultural Research Service/USDA)

Switchgrass (Agricultural Research Service/USDA)

The U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Energy have awarded a new series of grants for research on the production of biofuels and related bio-based products from a variety of biomass sources. The eight project awards — four recipients in the private sector and four university or federal lab projects — total $47 million.

Funding is provided through USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and DoE’s Biomass Program, with each award the result of a competitive selection process. Grant recipients will contribute a minimum of 20 percent of matching funds for R&D projects and 50 percent of matching funds for demonstration projects. The grants were made in three areas: feedstock development, biofuels and biobased products development, and biofuels development analysis.

Grant recipients include:

– Cellana LLC in Kailua Kona, Hawaii, $5.5 million. Cellana will develop a protein supplement from algae as a byproduct of algal biofuels production, by demonstrating its nutritional and economic value in livestock feeds.

– Domtar Paper Company in Fort Mill, South Carolina, $7 million. This three-year project will build a demonstration plant to convert low-value byproducts and wastes from paper mills into higher-value sugar, oil, and lignin products.

– Exelus Inc. in Livingston, New Jersey, $5.2 million. Exelus will develop energy crops with improved tolerance to drought and salt stress to enhance yields on marginal lands, and redesign a process to make hydrocarbon fuels with lower temperatures and less energy than current processes.

– Metabolix Inc. in Cambridge, Massachusetts, $6 million. Metabolix will enhance the yield of biofuels and related products made from switchgrass, using high temperature conversion to produce denser biomass for butanol and chemicals such as propylene.

– University of Florida in Gainesville, $5.4 million. This project seeks to improve the production and sustainability of sweet sorghum as an energy crop through genetic mapping and select strains that produce high biomass yields for easy conversion to fermentable sugars.

– University of Kansas Center for Research in Lawrence, $5.63 million. This project will demonstrate a new, sustainable technology at pilot scale that produces advanced fuels, industrial chemicals, and chemical intermediates.

– University of Kentucky in Lexington, $6.9 million. This project will improve the economics for biorefineries by using on-farm processing to convert biomass to a mixture of butanol, ethanol, acetone and organic acids, and then be easily transported to a biorefinery for further processing.

– U.S. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station in Missoula, Montana, $5.3 million. This project will investigate biomass feedstock production, logistics, conversion, distribution and end-use with advanced conversion technologies at existing forest industry facilities.

Read More: ARPA-E to Fund $130 Million for New Energy R&D

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