DOE and USDA Award $564 Million to Biorefinery Projects
December 9, 2009
DOE and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on December 4 the award of $564 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to 19 integrated biorefinery projects. Located in 15 states, the projects will validate biorefining technologies and help lay the foundation for full commercial-scale development of a biomass industry in the United States. The selected projects will produce advanced biofuels, bioproducts, and power from biomass feedstocks at the pilot, demonstration, and commercial scale. Collectively, these projects will be matched with more than $700 million in private and non-federal cost-share funds, for total project investments of nearly $1.3 billion. These efforts are designed to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, spur the creation of the domestic biomass industry, and provide new jobs in many rural areas of the country. They will also help close the gap between the current biofuels production from a small number of advanced biorefineries and the aggressive goals for cellulosic and advanced biofuels included in the federal Renewable Fuel Standard.
Of the new funding, up to $483 million will go to 14 pilot-scale and 4 demonstration-scale biorefinery projects, which will produce biofuels and bioproducts from such sources as algae, poultry fat, plant oils, switchgrass, sweet sorghum, agricultural and forest residues, and various sources of wood (including hybrid poplar trees and wood waste). The projects will produce ethanol and biobased versions of diesel fuel, gasoline, and jet fuel. Several projects will produce high-value biobased chemicals, including potassium acetate, ethyl acrylate, and succinnic acid. One demonstration-scale project will also produce 2 megawatts of power. The funds include a DOE grant of up to $50 million and a USDA loan guarantee of $54.5 million for Sapphire Energy's planned facility in Columbus, New Mexico. Sapphire Energy plans to convert algae into "Green Crude," a drop-in replacement for crude oil that can be refined into a variety of fuels at a traditional oil refinery. See the Sapphire Energy press release.
The remaining $81 million will help accelerate the construction of a facility in rural Fulton, Mississippi, that had previously received DOE funding. The project from BlueFire Ethanol, Inc. will have the capacity to generate 19 million gallons of ethanol per year from woody biomass, mill residue, and municipal solid waste. BlueFire announced in October that it had decided to locate in Mississippi after it faced licensing difficulties and a challenging business climate in California. The Mississippi site will draw on forest residues and wood wastes available in the region. See the DOE press release, the BlueFire Ethanol press release, and the complete list of selected projects (PDF 100 KB). Download Adobe Reader.