US to put $200m more into cellulosic ethanol R&D

02 May 2007 00:14  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS news)--The US Department of Energy said on Tuesday it will spend $200m (€146m) over five years to fund up to ten cellulosic research biorefineries for ethanol and bio-based chemicals.

The programme is intended to help jump-start cellulosic research. The department said it is seeking research applicants who can share funding on a 50:50 basis toward successful demonstration of cellulosic biorefineries at one-tenth commercial scale.

The department said these small-scale projects are meant to discover and develop novel approaches, a variety of cellulosic feedstocks and new refining processes.

This research funding follows the award earlier this year of $385m for the development of six full-scale biorefineries using current cellulosic production technology.

"The full-scale biorefineries focus on near-term commercial processes," the department said, "while the small-scale facilities will experiment with new feedstocks and processing technologies."

These small-scale projects are expected to be operational within four years and will speed the adoption of new technologies to produce ethanol and bio-based chemicals from cellulosic feedstocks, the department said.  Commercial-scale demonstrations would follow.

Current US ethanol production is based wholly on corn as a feedstock.  Cellulosic-based biofuels would use non-food agricultural waste such as corn stover, wheat chaff, wood chips, grasses or other inedible plant life as feedstocks.

The department said it is seeking small-scale cellulosic project concepts that can be ramped up quickly to commercial scale and which are supported by a sound business strategy. The deadline for applications is 14 August 2007.

($1 = €0.73)
By: Joe Kamalick
+1 713 525 2653

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