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USDA, DOE Announce New Investments in Biofuels

Hot off the heels of the solar energy zone development proposal, the US government continues to make hits with renewable energy this week. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Department of Energy (DOE) have announced an investment of $41 million to drive innovation and efficiency in feedstock improvement and biofuels production. The investment will be geared towards 13 projects.

The USDA and DOE, through the Biomass Research & Development Initiative, are aiming to create sustainable and economically efficient biomass to boost supplies of bio-based products and renewable fuels.

“If we want to develop affordable alternatives for oil and gasoline that will help reduce our dependence on foreign oil, we need investments like these projects to spur innovation in bioenergy,” said Tom Vilsack, US Agriculture Secretary, in a statement.

“By producing energy more efficiently and sustainably, we can create rural jobs, boost rural economies and help U.S. farmers, ranchers and foresters prosper,” he said.

Meanwhile, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu also said in a statement, “As part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above strategy to deploy every available source of American energy, we continue to strive for more efficient, cost-competitive technologies to produce U.S. energy.”

“The investments announced today are helping to accelerate innovation across America’s growing biofuels industry, which will help to reduce our dependence on imported oil and support job creation across rural America,” he continued.

Five projects of the thirteen projects being funded by the USDA and the DOE are funded through the Biomass Research & Development Initiative (BRDI), which is co-funded by both departments. The goal of the initiative is to create sustainable and economically efficient biomass to boost supplies of bio-based products, along with renewable fuels.

The five projects which received funding through BRDI include:

Quad County Corn Co-Operative in Galva, Iowa, will get $4.25 million. The funding will go towards retrofitting the plant and will add value to its product in the market. The product would be used to sell in the non-ruminant feed market and for biodiesel.

rapeseed fieldAgriculture Research Services National Center for Agriculture Revitalization in Peoria, Illinois will receive $7 million in order to advance rapeseed/canola, mustard, and carmelina oilseed crops for quantity and supply, from the use recombinant inbred lines. The oils would then be hydrated to make biodiesel and jet fuel.

Findlay, Ohio’s Copper Tire & Rubber Co will get $6.85 million to increase the quality and production of guayule rubber from genomic sequencing and molecular marker development. The used rubber will be used for tire formulation, with remaining residue to be looked at to covert jet fuel precursors and biopower.

Meanwhile, the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin will receive $7 million to use manure from dairy as a source of fertilizer and fibre. The fibre would be changed into ethanol, while manure would be utilized as crop fertilizer. The crop oil would then be used as biodiesel to power farm equipment.

The University of Hawaii in Manoa, Hawaii, will receive $6 million. The used funds aim to increase the production for various grasses, including napier grass, sugar cane, energy cane that could be converted into biodiesel and jet fuel.

Meanwhile, the eight other projects will receive $11.5 million spread out between them. It’s hoped that through the application of biomass, genomics will improve the quality of biofuel feedstocks, while advancing production.

Meanwhile, the Department of Energy, also released a Biofuels 101 video (below), highlighting how advancements in technology are driving biofuel costs down, while advancing efficiency.

Source: U.S. Department of Energy
Image Credits: corn biofuel image via Shutterstock & rape field via Shutterstock



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is expected to complete the Professional Development Certificate in Renewable Energy from the University of Toronto by December 2017. Adam recently completed his Social Media Certificate from Algonquin College Continuing & Online Learning. Adam also graduated from the University of Winnipeg with a three-year B.A. combined major in Economics and Rhetoric, Writing & Communications in 2011. Adam owns a part-time tax preparation business. He also recently started up Salay Consulting and Social Media services, a part-time business which provides cleantech writing, analysis, and social media services. His eventual goal is to be a cleantech policy analyst. You can follow him on Twitter @adamjohnstonwpg or check out his business


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