US DOE to invest $800 million in biofuels projects

By Kris Bevill | May 04, 2009
Web exclusive posted May 7, 2009, at 12:54 p.m. CST

The U.S. DOE plans to invest nearly $800 million for the development of advanced biofuels and the construction of biofuel production facilities. The agency was allocated $786.5 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for a biomass program and will use the funding for new opportunities as well as to provide additional assistance for existing projects. Funding will be separated into four categories: the validation of integrated biorefinery technologies, construction of demonstration- and commercial-scale biorefineries, advanced biofuels research and ethanol research.

Most of the DOE's biomass program budget will be used to explore the development of integrated biorefinery technologies. The goal is to validate a facility that would be capable of producing advanced biofuels capable of meeting the renewable fuel standard, bioproducts, and heat and power at a commercial-scale. The agency will invest a total of $480 million for projects focusing on integrated biorefineries.

The DOE also plans to offer $176.5 million to two or more pre-existing demonstration- or commercial-scale biorefinery projects in order to expedite construction of the facilities. Projects that have been awarded DOE funding within the last two years are eligible for the additional funding. According to DOE spokesman Tom Welch, only a handful of companies will be eligible for the additional funding. Companies qualifying for commercial-scale projects include Abengoa Bioenergy, Blue Fire Ethanol Fuels Inc., Poet LLC and Range Fuels. Possible demonstration-scale project recipients include Verenium Corp., Flambeau River Biofuels LLC, Lignol Energy Corp., Pacific Ethanol Inc. and Mascoma Corp.

Of the four main investment categories, ethanol research will be provided with the least amount of funding. The agency has allocated a total of $20 million to be used for the optimization of flexible fuel vehicles, upgrading the U.S. fuel infrastructure to be compatible with E85, and evaluating the impact of "higher ethanol blends" when used in conventional vehicles.

More information on the funding opportunities can be found at