Research and development for domestic sources of fuel and power is keeping many American institutions busy. The latest round of grants from the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) was awarded to 22 biomass projects to help keep R&D moving.Washington, DC – July 21, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] A total of US$ 25.5 million was distributed for the government’s Biomass Research and Development Initiative. Research institute projects will focus on cost benefit analyses of fuel and chemical production from biomass, and ways to establish infrastructure for a biomass and biofuel market, among other things. The joint grant program is part of the Department of Energy’s effort to increase America’s energy independence through the development of additional renewable energy resources from the agricultural and agroforestry sectors. Increased demand for production and processing of biomass should support traditional U.S. commodities such as corn, as well as create new cash crops for America’s farmers and foresters. A new bioindustry should also encourage the better use of agricultural and forestry residues, such as woody biomass. “Our agencies have been working together over the last few years to promote our nation’s biomass resources, which we believe will enhance our energy security, provide for a cleaner environment, and help to revitalize America’s rural economy,” said Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham. “The projects announced today will move us closer to our goal of establishing biorefineries that produce power, fuels, chemicals and other valuable products.” The Healthy Forest Restoration Act was passed in December 2003, and is aimed at reducing forest fire risks by making productive use of thinnings from forestlands. These efforts will yield cellulosic materials in the form of brush and small diameter trees that could be converted into multiple forms of fuel. The Biomass R&D Act of 2000 and the 2002 Farm Bill set the framework for interagency cooperation on biomass research.