Bioenergy, Geothermal, Hydropower

DOE To Invest US $78M in Advanced Biofuels R&D

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Steven Chu last week announced that DOE will invest US $78 million of funds allocated by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for advanced biofuels research and fueling infrastructure development. The funds will be divided between two biofuels consortia to research algae-based fuels.

“Advanced biofuels are crucial to building a clean energy economy,” said Secretary Chu. “By harnessing the power of science and technology, we can bring new biofuels to the market and develop a cleaner and more sustainable transportation sector.   This investment will help spur the creation of the domestic bio-industry, while creating jobs and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.”

Two cross-functional groups will seek to break down critical barriers to the commercialization of algae-based and other advanced biofuels such as green aviation fuels, diesel, and gasoline that can be transported and sold using today’s existing fueling infrastructure.

The first consortia, which will receive $44 million is the National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts (NAABB). Led by the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, NAABB will develop a systems approach for sustainable commercialization of algal biofuel and bioproducts. NAABB will integrate resources from companies, universities, and national laboratories to overcome the critical barriers of cost, resource use and efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions, and commercial viability.

Palmer Labs LLC, which is part of NAABB, will use some of the funds to support the enhanced research of its patent-pending algae technology, which it says addresses both energy and nutritional applications. Palmer Labs engineers are also designing and testing systems to burn algae to make renewable electricity.

Researchers at Palmer Labs are developing innovative methods for harnessing algae to “close the carbon cycle,” said Bill Brown, chairman of Palmer Labs and Duke Law School faculty member. “Our unique approach to algae will help provide a solution to the problem of CO2 emissions and, at the same time, provide algae for both food and energy production.”

The National Advanced Biofuels Consortium (NABC) will get up to $33.8 million. Led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, NABC will conduct research to develop infrastructure compatible, biomass-based hydrocarbon fuels.

Collectively, these consortia will be matched by private and non-federal cost-share funds of more than $19 million for total project investments of over $97 million.

Secretary Chu and DOE also announced today the selection of eight infrastructure projects to receive up to $1.6 million to support expanded fueling infrastructure for ethanol blends.

The projects plan to install E85 pumps, retrofit existing pumps to dispense E85, and install blender pumps that offer ethanol blends up to 85 percent at over 60 stations in Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.

The infrastructure projects will be matched with $3.9 million in non-federal cost-share funds, for total projects investments of $5.5 million.