UpdateUS agency awards $136m to develop biomass-based biofuels

28 September 2011 23:35  [Source: ICIS news]

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HOUSTON (ICIS)--The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded $136m (€99m) to fund five projects that will develop biofuels from wood, switchgrass and other biomass, the agency said on Wednesday.

Under one project, a research team from the University of Washington received $40m to produce gasoline and jet fuel from wood-based feedstock, the USDA said.

Among those participating in the research team is ZeaChem, which uses both the sugars and the lignin residue from biomass in its fermentation and gasification processes. 

Fermentation produces ethyl acetate (etac), and gasification produces hydrogen. The two intermediaries are then used to make ethanol

Zeachem will lead the research, development and demonstration trials at its 250,000 gal/year (946,000 litre/year) refinery near Boardman, Oregon, the company said.

In another project, a research team led by Washington State University also received $40m to convert closed timber mills into centres that will develop biofuels, the USDA said.

Ultimately, the research team intends to develop renewable jet fuel to be used by the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Among those participating in this project is bio-isobutanol producer Gevo.

Gevo will use its portion of the award to improve its cellulosic yeast and fermentation process, it said.

Gevo's yeast uses sugar to produce isobutanol, which is then used to make jet fuel.

The USDA awarded the remaining money to research teams led by Iowa State University, Louisiana State University and the University of Tennessee. These three teams will research switchgrass, cane, woody biomass and other feedstock that can be used to produce biofuels.

($1 = €0.73)

Doris de Guzman examines alternative processing, new technology, R&D and other sustainability initiatives in Green Chemicals

By: Al Greenwood
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