Those keeping score of the pro vs. against biofuel camps can add another point for the advocates since the federal government has agreed to divert more funds towards the expansion of biofuels. Specifically, the US Department of Energy (DOE) will award more than $10 million to five products designed to speed up technology related to converting biomass to fuel.

The largest grant, at $2.5 million, will go to California-based Novozymes, which (for you chemistry buffs out there) finds enzymes that can "deconstruct" biomass into fuel-worthy material. Washington State-based Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Texas-based Texas AgriLife Research will each get as much as $2.4 million for their biofuels projects. California-based Lygos and Maryland-based J. Craig Venter Institute will also get DOE funds. Read the DOE's press release below.

Earlier this week, the US Senate agreed on a temporary budget pact to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff" that will extend many of the biofuel initiatives from 2008's Farm Bill to the end of the year. Biofuel advocates praised the agreement as a job-saver, while the Union of Concerned Scientists were among those to say the incentives are being misappropriated away from what it called "smart, sustainable farming practices."
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Energy Department Awards $10 Million to Develop Advanced Biofuels and Bio-based Products
January 03, 2013
As part of the Obama Administration's all-of-the-above strategy to develop every available source of American energy, the U.S. Department of Energy today announced more than $10 million to five projects in California, Washington, Maryland, and Texas that will develop new technologies to convert biomass into advanced biofuels and bioproducts like plastics and chemical intermediates.

These projects use innovative synthetic biological and chemical techniques to convert biomass into processable sugars that can be transformed into bioproducts and drop-in biofuels for cars, trucks, and planes. The awards announced today will support projects led by collaborative teams, including universities, national laboratories and private industry.

The five projects support the Energy Department's broader biomass portfolio which focuses on research, development and demonstration efforts to achieve affordable, scalable and sustainable advanced biofuels. Two of these projects will develop cost-effective ways to produce intermediates from the deconstruction of lignocellulosic biomass, while three projects will propose new conversion techniques to transform biomass intermediates into advanced biofuels and bioproducts.

The following projects were selected for negotiation of award today:

J. Craig Venter Institute (up to $1.2 million; Rockville, Maryland): This project will develop new technologies to produce enzymes that more efficiently deconstruct biomass to make biofuel. This work will be performed in collaboration with La Jolla, California-based Synthetic Genomics, Inc.

Novozymes (up to $2.5 million; Davis, California): Through collaborative work with a team of partners, Novozymes will expand their existing capabilities to find new sources of enzymes which can be targeted to deliver more cost-effective solutions for deconstructing biomass into processable components.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (up to $2.4 million; Richland, Washington): The goal of this project is to increase the production of fuel molecules in fungi growing on lignocellulosic hydrolysate. The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will partner with universities and industry, including the University of Kansas, to complete the project.

Texas AgriLife Research (up to $2.4 million; College Station, Texas): This project will employ state-of-the-art technology to develop a novel and integrated platform for converting lignin, a component of all lignocellulosic material, into biofuel precursors. The team includes scientists from Georgia Institute of Technology, University of British Columbia, Washington State University, and Texas A&M University.

Lygos (up to $1.8 million; Berkeley, California): The overall goal of this project is to develop efficient, inexpensive methods and tools to convert biomass into common and specialty chemicals. This work will be performed in collaboration with San Francisco-based TeselaGen Biotech.

The Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy accelerates development and facilitates deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality. Learn more about EERE's work with industry, academia, and national laboratory partners on a balanced portfolio of research in biomass feedstocks and conversion technologies.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 39 Comments
      Rob J
      • 1 Year Ago
      I feel like autoblog green could do more to say WHAT king of biofuels are being supported by this money. In this case, all of that money seems to be for 2nd generation cellulose ethanol research. Nothing like the 1st gen corn starch stuff that so many (myself included) are against.
        carney373
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rob J
        Corn ethanol gets a bad rap. Don't repeat oil cartel FUD about it.
        Joeviocoe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rob J
        Yes, we need to be more careful not to group everything into labels that have earned a stigma. There are 1,000 ways NOT to make biofuels viable... but we must not declare the term "biofuel" as inherently impossible. Continue the research into promising types of biofuel research.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 1 Year Ago
      Hey why not.. that way the govt. can continue to pretend that they're doing anything to get us off oil. Meanwhile we opened up drilling in the arctic a year or two ago, we'll get the prime pick of the tar sands product coming from Canada since we let that nasty pipeline be re-routed and built. Utah and the other mountain states will get their tar sands/shale projects too. We are literally having an oil boom right now. The Green River formation and Bakken formation are going to seriously produce. Domestic gas prices will fall as we continue to produce more and more of our own oil and cut off imports. This will mean more pollution overall and give electric, hydrogen, and biofuels an even harder time to compete - and they couldn't truly compete at 4-5 dollars a gallon. This reminds me of when Bush put a bunch of money up for Hydrogen when hydrogen was showing even less promise than now, and never spoke up electric vehicle technology even though it was to come very soon.
        Ford Future
        • 1 Year Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        You know it's the Koch Brother's money that's pushing Tar Sand through congress?
          EZEE
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Ford Future
          Fine fine...GE doesn't have say in government policy, neither did Paulson (secretary of treasury and former Goldman Sachs man) geitner (ditto) etc., etc., etc.,.
          raktmn
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Ford Future
          Are you talking about Jeffrey Immelt heading up the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness? That's not a cabinet level position at all. That was an ad-hoc Private-Public Partnership outreach. That brought together CEO's from AMEX, Intel, Xerox, etc to provide input to the gov't and that is all. They were not in charge of any government operation, and they certainly weren't part of the cabinet. Where do you get all these conspiracy theories?
          raktmn
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Ford Future
          Canadian Tar Sand Pipelines. Another term for guaranteeing huge trade deficits and high gas prices long into the future.
          EZEE
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Ford Future
          And GE has it's CEO on as an Obama cabinet member, and Goldmach Sachs is throughout the administration. Your point...?
          2 wheeled menace
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Ford Future
          Like that comes as a shocker. Again, twisting govt. to your will is the name of the game now. Everyone does it. You don't have to compete on your own merits, just know the right people and grease the right gears. I especially don't like it when the oil industry does it. I don't like it when the green industry does it either.
        EZEE
        • 1 Year Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        Smiling... That was a really good rant. It actually put me in a good mood, which I appreciate. The Miss Illinois quarter finalist I have been dating has been especially troublesome lately. Waaaaa I don't feel appreciated. Uhhhhh, I flew over the holidays to the frozen north to meet your family...., then got the boat set for a day on the lake once we got back.....and got you roses and left them at your door. Women... My friend who is in porn has offered to share, so I have options.... (My life is odd, btw).
          EZEE
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EZEE
          She knows about me doing camera work for porn, but obviously the parents do not. Meh....you asked..,,and the point was not a bad one...
          EZEE
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EZEE
          Her family loves me, and her mom gave me two original paintings. I get along quite well with parents for some reason. One painting hangs over my mantel place. Actually, I spent over $1,000 flying up for a 2.5 day trip, but that is neither here nor there. They were quite thrilled with the gift I had mailed up ahead of time for the entire family to share with. She is not a porn star, she is a former miss Illinois semifinalist. I have a buddy who is big in the porn business who I have done camera work for (that is trippy, especially when you have to move a leg out of the way because of shadows, and lease god, no one drop when I am holding the camera down south! He has offered me his porn star wife, and another that he met while going in for his monthly blood test (industry standard). Now...all angry and snide comments aside, your second point on her 'drama' and 'thrill of new relationships' is something I have considered. That thrill you talk about actually involves the release of seratonin, and it creates a high. After that fades, a person can be like, 'whoa....' And they want that 'high' back. The passive aggressive thing is not true, because I tried to break things off, so she had the perfect opportunity, but talked about is 'recovering' of I wanted too. Women can be odd creatures, as you most likely have learned, their heads tell them one thing, their hearts another. This is why they bitch and complain to the guy who is their 'friend' about why they can't find anyone good, yet then date the motorcycle gang member. Then cry to their friend about not finding anyone good. Interestingly also, I have asked her, and she denies everything, but then, women... Hope that made the popcorn good...! Never accuse me of not taking any question seriously..... :-)
          raktmn
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EZEE
          It cracks me up what folks share about their personal lives on the internet. =) Maybe you answered the question of why she's acting so weird when you said "I get along quite well with parents for some reason." Once the folks say "he's such a nice boy" chicks immediately start losing interest. Although "nice guy" and helping video pornos doesn't exactly match up. Does she know about the porn stuff? Do the parents? Maybe she senses you are keeping secrets?
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EZEE
          What does any of this have to do with bio-fuels???? Just wondering why you posted this here????
          raktmn
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EZEE
          She probably feels like you only date her so you can brag to your buddies about dating a beauty queen quarter finalist, and not because you really connect with her as a real person. She probably doesn't feel like you really wanted to meet her family, even though her family is a really big part of who she sees herself as. And that makes her feel less good about herself that she thinks you don't really care about her family. She probably feels like you don't make love to her, you just use her like a porno to get off. She doesn't feel special, she feels interchangeable with any porn star who could replace her in bed and be just the same. All the gifts might seem shallow to her, not given in real affection but just to get her to keep sleeping with you. Then again she could just be a whiny narcissistic b!tch who gets off on drama. Maybe she's addicted to the thrill of new relationships and wants to move on, but is too passive-aggressive to break things off herself. Why don't you ask her and find out? *popcorn*
      Marcopolo
      • 1 Year Ago
      All research looks like a waste of money, until it pays off ! Sometimes even proving something doesn't work is valuable research. $10 million is very little money to research a way of making an uneconomic industry which has received 100's of billions over the years to become more viable. Good luck to the researchers.
      diffrunt
      • 1 Year Ago
      Real gas costs me 10% more, produces 20% better mileage in my Terrain, doesn't clog up the injector pump in my stored Evinrude.
        EZEE
        • 1 Year Ago
        @diffrunt
        Looks, I see the -1, but ethanol, at least, is not good in boats. I have the same issue with my boat. I have equipped it with a water separater, but ethanol and boats don't mix very well.
        carney373
        • 1 Year Ago
        @diffrunt
        Gasoline is what's depositing the gunk. Ethanol is a natural scouring / cleaning agent that loosens it up and wrongly gets blamed. If you only used ethanol there would be no gunk to clog anything. Gasoline companies brag about carcinogenic and mutagenic "detergents" to prevent gunk; ethanol needs no such things.
        Rob J
        • 1 Year Ago
        @diffrunt
        So rather than be for the idea of mixer pumps you are just blankety against the idea of a transition to ethanol?
          EZEE
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rob J
          Wait...by mixer pump, do you mean something that can blend on demand? If so, that would be great, but never seen one.
          Rob J
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rob J
          They exist, they are just not very available. Yet. http://www.hybridcars.com/usda-aims-fund-10000-new-flex-fuel-pumps-2016-29711/ However, a friend of mine doesn't put any ethanol in his Datsun 240z so he just fills up with supreme at the nearby Chevron which is 100% gas for the highest octane. More expensive? Yes. But he doesn't drive THAT much so he doesn't care.
          EZEE
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rob J
          Uhm, so I am a bad guy for not endorsing something that isn't on the market? If it exists, and can be used, why complain. I will fill my boat with pure gas, and my FFV truck with a high blend. I own an FFV truck, because I care. It is also rated at ULEV. I am better than you. Because I care.
      carney373
      • 1 Year Ago
      Ethanol burns clean, without smog-causing soot. Smog caused 40,000 deaths in 2007 according to the EPA under that radical eco-Marxist George W. Bush. Check roadside snow, how black it gets. That's soot, not mud. That's what goes into your lungs. That's what ethanol spares you, and that's why ethanol is endorsed by the American Lung Association. Ethanol also burns without acid rain-causing sulfur. Ethanol, when spilled, dissolves completely in water and is broken down into harmless components by locally present bacteria - unlike oil, which remains concentrated and needs physical cleanup or chemical dispersants.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Such an incredibly stupid, destructive policy. Ethanol should be banned from this country,not subsidized. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/06/science/earth/in-fields-and-markets-guatemalans-feels-squeeze-of-biofuel-demand.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&
        Rob J
        • 1 Year Ago
        What an excellent lack of understanding of ethanol.
        carney373
        • 1 Year Ago
        Food vs. fuel is bunk. Actually, the Third World's subsistence farmers would greatly benefit from being able to switch to growing biofuel cash crops for hard currency to enter modernity. That would simultaneously undermine the brutally regressive oil tax imposed by OPEC that drains almost all hard currency from poor countries to let the filthy rich oil regimes swim in more ill gotten gains. Ethanol is a big hunger-FIGHTER, not a hunger-causer. There's no world food shortage. A lower percentage of people are hungry in this generation than ever in history. More calories per person produced than ever. Poverty is marked by obesity, not malnutrition, and not only in the First World, but increasingly in rising countries like Mexico and China. What hunger remains is mostly caused by the super-abundance of food not getting through because of violent conflict (Sudan), extreme repression (North Korea), worst-case economic mismanagement, (ZImbabwe), extreme poverty (which is best alleviated by economic growth) etc. The 40 percent of our crop for biofuel stat sounds scary to the ignorant, but the reality is that, setting the drought year aside, we have more corn for food than ever. That 40% has not come at the expense of food corn, the "pie" has gotten bigger. Per acre crop yields rise relentlessly, up more than 17% since 2003, and the state of Iowa now produces more corn by itself than the entire USA did in the 1940s. Less than half our farmland is even cultivated, and huge productivity increases are just waiting to happen in the tropics given enough demand, which biofuel can supply.
      Maddoxx
      • 1 Year Ago
      Why don't these bio Eco green companies seek investors and venture capitalist? Why mooch off tax payers money? Is the tax payer going to own stock in these companies? America is being fleeced by these politicians and scamming businessmen.
        carney373
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Maddoxx
        You need to worry a lot more about the $650 billion in artificially high oil prices set by OPEC fleecing this country.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Maddoxx
        Crony capitalism seems to be where it's at these days..
          EZEE
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          Ahhh yes, Sarah Palin, like Fox News, means one can simply stop questioning anything, because everything they say is wrong, every time. Why actually think when someone or something has been sufficiently demonized? Meanwhile; Parsons and his colleagues did publish a study on men's penis size and its link to the risk of sexually transmitted disease — but Parsons says no tax dollars were used to collect the data. In reality, he says, those millions of dollars went to a government program to train scientists, and that program gave a small educational grant to a researcher who happened to write the paper. Meanwhile: The website describes the process of the Burnett’s experiments, “First, a crustacean is infected, by injection, with the same types of disease-causing bacteria that are commonly encountered in the wild. Next, the animal is placed on a specially built, mini underwater treadmill. Then, the organism's vital signs, such as its heart rate and blood pressure, are measured (as a proxy for fitness) while it walks on the treadmill--similar to the way that a person's vital signs are measured while he or she& walks on a treadmill during a stress test. Finally, the treadmill performances of infected crustaceans are compared to those of their uninfected counterparts.” The NSF has even produced a video on the project titled: “The Importance of Studying Shrimp On A Treadmill”. Some of the results of the studies are available from the NSF, “Results show that infected crabs and shrimp do not perform on the treadmill as well as their uninfected counterparts, and that the immune responses that are triggered by bacterial infections are enough, by themselves, to reduce these animals' ability to take up oxygen, even when high levels of oxygen are available.” Reports of $500,000 of taxpayer funds to study a project that has shrimp running on a treadmill hit the headlines early in 2011. A recent report now shows that $682,570 in grants has been awarded to the research effort. Yes yes, I feel so much better now..., you won that argument! I am glad out tax dollars went toward that, opposed to feeding children..personally, I would rather feed the children, but if this is more important to you than feeding the children, or stopping war, I won't criticize. I mean, who could have guessed infected shrimp would not have run as far after being infected intentionally? Doesn't take a rocket scientist, or a guy dating a former miss Illinois semi finalist, or a guy who had a three some last June. Oh no wait, I just identified that a shrimp wouldn't run as far after being intentionally infected without spending over $600,000, but then I am a rocket scientist who is dating a former mill Illinios semi finalist who had a three some last June. And the threesome was awesome.
          EZEE
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          The sad thing is, this is one area where the right and left could agree. I am right/libertarian, and I agree. You are left/libertarian, you agree, we here the occupy people scream against this stuff... One person's pork is another person's vital infrastructure project. Watching those shrimp run on treadmills was fun though, wasn't it (you saw the video from that government study, right?). I really went much interested in the government study in the penis sizes of gay men, However. Not that there is anything wrong with that,...
          raktmn
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          What do you have against measuring how shrimp respond to changes in water quality? Do you expect the scientists to just guess at what poor water quality does to animals? What do you have against a private study (not funded by the government) being quoted in a gov't funded paper? The gov't didn't fund the study on penis size. What was funded was a paper on reproductive health quoted a tangential piece of data that happened to be collected by the private study on penis size. That is not the same as funding the study itself. Both of those issues remind be a Sarah Palin complaining about Autism research funding going to study fruit flies. All she did was show her own ignorance of the great value of using fruit flies to work on genetic health issues. Fruit flies have very short reproduction periods and provide many new generations of genetic information much faster than if you used humans, or primates, or any mammal. Don't tell me you bought into Sarah Palin's rhetoric too?
          raktmn
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          Actually, the treadmill part of the study was just a fraction of the entire study. The treadmill cost about $1,000 dollars. And the relevance is very specific. These shrimp and other sea creatures are part of what we feed our children. And the health of these creatures is very important to our food supply. One example of increased bacteria is one of the side effects of oil spills. We fight oil using biological weapons -- we dump oil eating bacteria in the water. This study directly shows the impact of this approach. Another example of increased bacteria is untreated/undertreated sewage being dumped directly into the ocean. Should we just guess about what these things do, or should we understand what they do? Should we spend of billions of dollars coming up with an alternative to using bacteria to eat oil spills because we don't understand the impacts, or do we figure out if it is an acceptable trade-off to the health of the sea life? Do we spend billions of dollars building water treatment plants because we don't know what the bacteria does to our sea life, or do we study it first so we can make rational decisions? I thought you were a scientist who believed in the scientific method?
        Joeviocoe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Maddoxx
        We COULD wait for the invisible hand of the market to bring these companies to fruition... of course the free hand does not care about national boundaries (that we are sending money out of the country to buy oil)... nor about the environment. And moves way too slow to get to our goal of oil independence. The problem is, the free market won't kick in until gasoline is MUCH more expensive... which is where we are headed if we don't reduce our consumption. We can either pay more with tax money now... or deal with using the free market and pay more later as gasoline really fleeces us. We have already seen what oil shocks do.
          EZEE
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          @ Ford And public education! :D
          Ford Future
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Monopoly does not innovate. Exxon being the perfect example.
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