US gets more than 100 bids on military biofuels request

13 October 2011 22:45  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--US federal officials have received more than 100 proposals from industry on how to develop commercially viable “drop-in” biofuels for US military consumption, congressional officials said on Thursday.

In a multi-agency request for information (RFI) issued in late August, the Department of Energy (DOE), Agriculture Department (USDA) and the US Navy asked the US energy sector for “specific ideas on how to leverage private capital markets to establish a commercially viable drop-in biofuels industry”.

A drop-in biofuel is one that could be introduced into conventional US Air Force and Navy fuels for aircraft or ships without requiring any changes in fuelling systems and infrastructure, handling or engines.

“Of particular interest,” said the 31 August request, “are the technical, manufacturing and market barriers to establishing a viable business for advanced drop-in hydrocarbon biofuels” that use non-food cellulosic feedstocks.

However, the RFI does allow the use of food-based crops as feedstocks, but only on a transitional basis as “a pathway to sustainability” and only if there would be no impact on the availability and supply of food.

The Energy Department and military officials wanted proposals that meet three criteria.

Those criteria include a capability to produce a drop-in replacement biofuels meeting military specifications at a price competitive with petroleum, geographically diverse locations and no significant impact on the supply of agricultural commodities for production of food.

A spokeswoman for Congressman Roscoe Bartlett (Republican-Maryland) said on Thursday that in a meeting with Navy officials, Bartlett was told that the request for proposals had generated more than 100 submissions by the 30 September deadline.

For competitive and proprietary reasons, details on the proposals could be disclosed, the spokeswoman said.

There will be a first-round appraisal of the proposals, and those entities that submitted ideas deemed most promising and viable will be asked to flesh-out their concepts in further discussions with DOE.

Paul Hodges studies key influences shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy

By: Joe Kamalick
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