• May 6, 2009
Currently, the United States isn't producing enough biofuels to satisfy the requirements set out by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, and President Obama's administration is planning to do something about it. On Tuesday, Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced a new $786.5 million program to speed development and commercialization of biofuels in America.

Of the $786.5 million fund, which will be drawn from President Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, $480 million will be used to build pilot- and demonstration-scale biofuel refineries, $176.5 million will be used to build commercial biofuel refineries and $130 million will fund various biofuel research programs.

Further, a new Biofuels Interagency Working Group was formed on Tuesday to promote biofuel use in America and reduce the country's dependence on foreign oil. The panel consists of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

President Obama also announced that the U.S. EPA would launch a new study on the effect corn-based ethanol has on overall greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, almost 100% of all ethanol used in the United States is derived from corn, which is a significantly less desirable way to create ethanol than new cellulosic technologies.

[Source: Detroit News, DOE | Image Source: John Moore/Getty]

PRESS RELEASE:

Secretary Chu Announces Nearly $800 Million from Recovery Act to Accelerate Biofuels Research and Commercialization

New green jobs a benefit of effort to end dependence on foreign oil

WASHINGTON, D.C. - As part of the ongoing effort to increase the use of domestic renewable fuels, U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu today announced plans to provide $786.5 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to accelerate advanced biofuels research and development and to provide additional funding for commercial-scale biorefinery demonstration projects.

"Developing the next generation of biofuels is key to our effort to end our dependence on foreign oil and address the climate crisis -- while creating millions of new jobs that can't be outsourced," Secretary Chu said. "With American investment and ingenuity -- and resources grown right here at home -- we can lead the way toward a new green energy economy."

The DOE biomass program will leverage DOE's national laboratories, universities, and the private sector to help improve biofuels reliability and overcome key technical challenges, with the goal of creating third-generation biofuels like green gasoline, diesel, and jet fuels.

The $786.5 million in Recovery Act funding is a mix of new funding opportunities and additional funding for existing projects. It will be allocated across four main areas:

$480 million solicitation for integrated pilot- and demonstration-scale biorefineries

Projects selected under this Funding Opportunity Announcement will work to validate integrated biorefinery technologies that produce advanced biofuels, bioproducts, and heat and power in an integrated system, thus enabling private financing of commercial-scale replications.

DOE anticipates making 10 to 20 awards for refineries at various scales and designs, all to be operational in the next three years. The DOE funding ceiling is $25 million for pilot-scale projects and $50 million for demonstration scale projects.

These integrated biorefineries will reduce dependence on petroleum-based transportation fuels and chemicals. They will also facilitate the development of an "advanced biofuels" industry to meet the federal Renewable Fuel Standards.

$176.5 million for commercial-scale biorefinery projects

$176.5 million will be used to increase the federal funding ceiling on two or more demonstration- or commercial-scale biorefinery projects that were selected and awarded within the last two years.

The goal of these efforts is to reduce the risk of the development and deployment of these first-of-a-kind operations. These funds are expected to expedite the construction phase of these projects and ultimately accelerate the timeline for start up and commissioning.

$110 million for fundamental research in key program areas

The Biomass Program plans to use $110 million to support fundamental research in key program areas, distributed in the following manner:

* Expand the resources available for sustainability research through the Office of Science Bioenergy Research Centers and establish a user-facility/small-scale integrated pilot plant ($25 million);
* Create an advanced research consortium to develop technologies and facilitate subsequent demonstration of infrastructure-compatible biofuels through a competitive solicitation ($35 million); and
* Create an algal biofuels consortium to accelerate demonstration of algal biofuels through a competitive solicitation ($50 million).

This funding will help to develop cutting-edge conversion technologies, including generating more desirable catalysts, fuel-producing microbes, and feedstocks.

$20 million for ethanol research

The Biomass Program is planning to use $20 million of the Recovery Act funding in a competitive solicitation to achieve the following:

* Optimize flex-fuel vehicles operating on high octane E85 fuel (85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gasoline blend);
* Evaluate the impact of higher ethanol blends in conventional vehicles; and
* Upgrade existing refueling infrastructure to be compatible with fuels up to E85.

For more information on these and other Recovery Act related funding opportunities, visit energy.gov/recovery.


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  • 54 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      I bet this story gets rave reviews from autoblog green!

      what a waste of perfectly good food.
        • 5 Years Ago
        High fructose corn syrup is "perfectly good food"?

        You CANNOT eat the government-subsidized Iowa corn used for biofuel/HFCSs. I repeat: YOU CANNOT EAT IOWA CORN.

        Are you honestly concerned about Coca-Cola, Pepsi and other processed food/drink/sweetener manufacturers having to spend more to use real sugars? If you eat real/healthy food as opposed to inedible corn or processed foods this shouldn't be an issue. Grass-fed beef is quite tasty. Do some research, please...

        Either this corn should be used for biofuels or the fields should be used for edible crops. The lobbyists are winning the battle and we, the citizens of America are on the losing end, both financially and health-wise.

        For starters, check out the FAQ:
        http://www.kingcorn.net/
      • 5 Years Ago
      Bah. Ethanol was a huge mistake of the last administration, and this administration isn't donig anything about that promised "change," either.

      BUTANOL. Ethanol is such a joke.
      • 5 Years Ago
      dsuupr im glad to see someone on here that knows the facts. stuka not sure about yours,ethanol burns cooler and more complete which creates pore power which in turn uses less fuel. as far as you obama haters i dont get it he is doing a lot better than the last guy by far.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Alex, there is one major difference between Bush spending and Obama spending.

        Bush pissed our money away, nothing to show for it.
        Obama makes INVESTMENT in our future. See the difference?

        With the exception of money given to Chrysler, government has been collecting interest on monies LOANED to the private sector.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Investment? The Chinese and other foreign banks are buying up massive Treasury bonds and the CBO says our deficits will run near $1 trillion (with a T) a year for ten years out. Just paying the interest will cost us 1.3 trillion (with a T) over the next decade. This is the CBO. And when the federal reserve starts dumping the extra trillion they've been printing up into the market, you'll see the value of our dollar plummet and HYPER inflation take hold - just like the good old 70s with it's double digit inflation rates and 18% mortgage rates. Like I said, Bush was Obama Lite. Both pissing money away.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "more" power oops, autoblog we need an edit option.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You kidding? Bush was Obama Lite. They're both of the same cloth. All Obama's doing is stepping up the game where Bush left off - by many orders of magnitude.
      • 5 Years Ago
      alex what are you nuts were you living in some other country the last 8 years? you cant judge obama in 3 months and compare that to 8 years any way. in my opinion he has done nothing wrong.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Mr. Oak, you are an idiot.

        Bush has released his grades from undergrad and grad school (Harvard MBA). He consistently got higher grades than John Kerry (basically brain dead) or Al Gore (who failed out of freaking DIVINITY school). Slow Joe Biden is on video from his presidential run lying about his academic credentials (check youtube).

        Which brings us to mister eloquent Barry Obama McTeleprompter. It's the residual ignorant credulous CBS News viewers such as yourself that cause me to doubt we'll pull out of the current crises with anything recognizable as America.

        There is NO EVIDENCE that Barry is intelligent. None.

        You may say he's intelligent because he's eloquent. To which I'll point out that he uses a freaking teleprompter to order his freaking breakfast! You didn't see this on CBS, but you can go to youtube and put in the search terms "obama" and "teleprompter" and you will see that when the teleprompter turns off, Barry is no more eloquent than Bush. I repeat, he uses just as many awkward pauses, ums and uhs (if not more) than Bush. Barry, like most hollywood actors, is able to read cue cards, but that does not equal intelligence.

        You may say he got into Harvard Law School. To which I'll point out he's a huge supporter of affirmative action - and has admitted it's helped him repeatedly. He HAS NOT RELEASED HIS UNDERGRAD grades. There's better than even chances that he would have been in the bottom 10% in qualifications of his incoming HLS class (along with the other AA admits - that's the whole freaking point of AA after all).

        You may say he was the editor of the Harvard Law Review. To which I'll point out that again AA was the ONLY reason for that, as has been pointed out by the other members of the HLR. There are two ways to get on HLR - grades and AA. It's public record that it was AA in his case (they wanted their first african american editor). Which brings us back to grades. Unlike EVERY other politician in America at his level, he HAS NOT RELEASED HIS HLS grades. As an AA admit who is currently hiding the grades from the public, I think it's safe to assume that he was probably in the bottom 10% of his class (along with the other AA admits - that's the whole freaking point of AA after all).

        But go ahead and believe he's "smart" if that makes you feel better about yourself...
      • 5 Years Ago
      Biofuels are the stupidest idea ever. But the current administration has already shown they want to do whatever they can to drive us farther into debt, and make the cost of living increase, so why should any of us be surprised?

      Any form of energy that requires more energy to produce it then it outputs, is idiotic.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "A fuel that takes less water to produce than gasoline, reduces the emissions of gas powered vehicles by 90% plus, can be made from "waste" and has a 7 times higher rate of return on btu gained from btu used is not a "stupid" idea, unless you work for an oil company or are one of the oil tycoons."

        Don't forget if you're a corporation like Coca-Cola or Pepsi. Heaven forbid they have to use natural sweeteners!

        Stuka, the corn grown for biofuels/HFCSs isn't edible unless you're cattle. Sadly, thanks to corporate lobbyists the inedible corn is subsidized by the gov't ~ the situation is a mess. 60 Minutes did a whole story on it...
        • 5 Years Ago
        Stuka... You understand that that dsuupr is talking about cellulosic ethanol and not corn based ethanol or oil derived bio diesel don't you?

        The whole premise of cellulosic ethanol production is its ability to use waste products such as treetops leftover from timbering, plant fodder left over from crop harvest, lawn clippings and leaves that currently go to land fills, as well as switch grass and other high yielding crops that do not require irrigation. Almost any plant matter is a posibilty to produce fuel.
        • 5 Years Ago
        A fuel that takes less water to produce than gasoline, reduces the emissions of gas powered vehicles by 90% plus, can be made from "waste" and has a 7 times higher rate of return on btu gained from btu used is not a "stupid" idea, unless you work for an oil company or are one of the oil tycoons.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Biofuels increase food prices, use more energy then they produce and once again rely on us the taxpayers to foot the bill. If the people in Washington DC weren't called politicians they would either be in insane asylums or in prison where they belong.
        • 5 Years Ago
        ...and what would you call the mob that runs "The Market"? and oh wait quite a few of them ARE in jail.

        or the credit card companies that engage in mob style loan sharking?

        Someone has to protect the consumer from the plunderers, guess it has to be GOVERNMENT by default.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Not to mention the already shrinking water resources that need to be used for bio fuel production.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Some things to note:
        1. It takes 3 to 8 gallons of water to produce 1 gallon of gasoline. Cellulosic ethanol takes less than 1 gallon up to 3 gallons to produce.
        2. Gasoline returns .81 btu for every 1 btu of energy used. Cellulosic ethanol returns 7.7 to 10.31 btu for every btu used.
        3. The U.S. Department of Commerce predicts that if cellulosic ethanol reaches 49.5 billion gallons by 2020:
        a. Domestic U.S. fuel prices would fall by 5.2%.
        b. World oil prices would decline by 3.1%.
        c. U.S. oil import would decline by 10.7% or by 1.2 million barrels per day.
        4. At $50 per barrel, it cost $1.60 to make 1 gallon of gasoline. Using the Coskata system, and many others, it cost $1 to a gallon of CE.
        5. CE reduces emissions up to 96%. Even at 90% a Suburban would have 1/3 the emissions of a prius.


        I just got done writing a 90+ page report on Cellulosic Ethanol for our County Commissioners which made me realize how great this stuff really is.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Grow food to feed the starving, not feed the Escalades and Denali's.
        • 5 Years Ago
        As others have been saying, using food for fuel is DUMB. Mandating corn derived ethanol led to a number of things over the past few years:

        1) Corn prices skyrocketed. 2) Meat prices skyrocket as a result (poultry, beef - across the board) since they feed off the stuff. 3) Soybean goes through the roof seeing as how fewer farmers want to grow the stuff and LOVE the profit margins from corn so soybean oil prices skyrocket.

        Bottom line is there's so much interdependency on corn that pretty much EVERY food item is affected by ethanol production.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I wonder if Obama's plan includes mi.lions of dollars to pay farmers not to grow corn so as to drive the price up?
        • 5 Years Ago
        I agree with you, but unless there's money to be made by feeding the starving, on the level we're thinking about, it will never happen. You know what makes the world go around....
        • 5 Years Ago
        These ppl never heard of celluloid and algae ethanol i guess...Most of those money is going to non-food based ethanol production...fuel from food-based crop is going to be history
        • 5 Years Ago
        @ jpm100,

        About 850 million people are considered to be starving and by 2015 it is predicted we will add another 100 million, hardly "no one."
        • 5 Years Ago
        TONY:

        The corn used for HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup) isn't edible. The poor and starving can live without corn sweeteners (real butter tastes better on popcorn, anyways). There's also something called "sugar" which comes from sugar cane which is edible and tasty.

        Look into it sometime...
        • 5 Years Ago
        You mean tax the rich and successful to feed the poor.

        Spread the wealth around a little.
      • 5 Years Ago
      If it was worth doing, it would be worth doing WITHOUT the gov't taking my money and giving it to someone else.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Ride behind a BIO Diesel TRUCK and you get sick
        • 5 Years Ago
        Same goes for Diesel, ask the residents of the Bronx, NY. Highest asthma rate in the country. Most heavily truck travelled roadways ring the Bronx.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Unfortunately, ethanol does not reduce emissions. It releases a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.

      As for Brazil, they heavily subsidize ethanol and tax diesel. Otherwise, ethanol would cost more and it wouldn't be used as much. Plus, they just decided to spends billions to develop offshore oil in the South Atlantic.

      Ethanol was an epic fail when gas was over $4/gallon. Now, we're just doubling down on a very bad bet and have evidence that stupidity is bipartisan.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Ethanol is not just made from corn in the US. Here in Oregon, a company makes ethanol from the processing waste of packaging fruits.

      Overall this is great news. I look forward to eliminating landfills, and reducing all vehicle emissions by over 90% using cellulosic ethanol.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Obama! Why, as an Autoblog commenter the very mention of his name just gets my dander up! AHhhhh!! Ah Blue bay blue... a blue bay blurghhh...arrrruuuugg aruuuug (collapses with foaming mouth)...
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