DOE Awards $23 M to Five U.S. Ethanol Conversion Projects

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Alexander Karsner announced yesterday just over $23 million in federal funding, subject to negotiation, for five projects focused on developing highly efficient fermentative organisms to convert biomass material to ethanol.

“These projects will play a critical role in furthering our knowledge of how we can produce cellulosic ethanol cost- effectively,” Assistant Secretary Karsner said. “Ultimately, success in producing cost-competitive cellulosic ethanol could be a key to breaking our nation’s addiction to oil. By relying on American farmers and ingenuity for fuel, we will enhance our nation’s energy and economic security.” Specifically, the projects directly support the goals of President Bush’s Twenty in Ten Initiative, which aims to increase the use of renewable and alternative fuels in the transportation sector to the equivalent of 35 billion gallons of ethanol a year by 2017. The selections build upon DOE’s announcement last month of funding for six biorefinery projects across the country (see second link below). Projects were selected for the organism’s capacity to convert lignocellulosic biomass to ethanol in process-relevant conditions that would be economical in the commercial market. Additionally, the organism must be able to survive a wide range of environmental conditions and remain stable from adverse mutation. In addition, the recipients must have the ability to produce at commercial scale in the future and have a sound business strategy to market the organism. Projects submitted by these five applicants were selected: — Cargill Incorporated to receive up to $4.4 million — Celunol Corporation to receive up to $5.3 million — E.I. Dupont de Nemours & Company to receive up to $3.7 million — Mascoma Corporation to receive up to $4.9 million — Purdue University to receive up to $5.0 million Negotiations between the selected companies and DOE will begin immediately to determine final project plans and funding levels. Funding will begin this fiscal year and run through FY 2010, subject to congressional appropriations.

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