DOE to Award Nearly $80 Million for Biofuels Research and Infrastructure

January 20, 2010

DOE announced on January 13 its investment of nearly $80 million in advanced biofuels research and fueling infrastructure under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The selections include two biofuels consortia that will seek to break down barriers to the commercialization of algae-based and other biofuels that can be transported and sold using the existing fueling infrastructure, including refineries and pipelines. These two consortia will receive up to $78 million from DOE, to be matched by private and non-federal funds of more than $19 million for total project investments of more than $97 million. In addition, $1.6 million in Recovery Act funds will go toward infrastructure projects to expand the availability of ethanol-rich fuel. The infrastructure funds will be matched with $3.9 million in non-federal funds for a total investment of $5.5 million.

The two biofuels consortia are the National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts (NAABB) and the National Advanced Biofuels Consortium (NABC). The NAABB, a $44 million effort led by the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, will develop a systems approach for sustainable commercialization of algal biofuel and bioproducts. The NAABB will integrate resources from companies, universities, and national laboratories to overcome the barriers of cost, resource use and efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions, and commercial viability of algal biofuels. It will develop and demonstrate the science and technology necessary to significantly increase production of algal biomass and lipids, efficiently harvest and extract algae and algal products, and establish methods of producing both fuels and valuable co-products. The NABC, a $33.8 million outreach led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, will conduct cutting-edge research to develop biomass-based hydrocarbon fuels, drawing on such techniques as fermentation, catalysis, and such high-temperature processes as pyrolysis (an oxygen-free process that generally produces an oily liquid), hydrothermal liquefaction (adding water to produce an oily liquid), and gasification (adding oxygen or steam to generate a gas called syngas, which can then be converted into liquid fuels).

In addition, the new infrastructure projects will allow the installation of new pumps and the retrofitting of existing pumps to dispense E85, a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. The funds will also support the addition of "blender pumps" that offer ethanol blends of up to 85% ethanol. The infrastructure projects will be located in nine states: Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, Texas, Virginia, and Washington. They will add at least 45 E85 dispensers and 16 blender pumps along key driving corridors and areas with higher concentrations of flexible-fuel vehicles. See the DOE press release and the complete awards list and project descriptions (PDF 70 KB). Download Adobe Reader.