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California Energy Commission Awards $3M to Biofuel Projects

The California Energy Commission (CEC) has selected three biofuel projects to receive a combined $3 million in funding under a Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Program solicitation issued in October 2006. (Earlier post.)

The CEC received 19 proposals, which the CEC Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) reviewed, evaluated, and scored. Based on the TAC’s scores and suggested condition on funding, the CEC’s RD&D Committee recommended the three following projects for funding:

  1. Metcalf & Eddy and San Francisco Public Utility Commission. $995,791 for a brown grease recovery and biofuel production demonstration project. Average score: 73.20

  2. Renewable Energy Institute International. $996,093 for the demonstration of an integrated biofuels and energy production system. Average score: 70.50

  3. Bluefire Ethanol. $995,938 for a lignocellulosic biorefinery project. Average score: 70.20

Blue Fire Ethanol also recently was awarded up to $40 million from the US Department of Energy for a proposed plant in Southern California that will produce about 19 million gallons of ethanol a year from 700 tons per day of sorted green waste and wood waste from landfills. (Earlier post.)

BlueFire Ethanol was established to use the Arkenol process for the conversion of cellulosic waste material to ethanol. The Arkenol process uses concentrated acid hydrolysis to process cellulosic biomass into simple sugars suitable for fermenting into ethanol. Arkenol improved upon the acid hydrolysis process known for more than 100 years with new methods for efficient acid recovery and reconcentration, and for delivering high sugar concentration at high purity.

BlueFire can use post-sorted municipal solid waste (MSW), rice and wheat straws, wood waste and other agricultural residues. BlueFire plans to locate their cellulose conversion facilities on landfills throughout North America, initially focusing on the California fuel market. (Earlier post.)



I have dealt with the California Energy Commission and their programs. For a state as populated as California, their energy commission is inadequate. 3 million dollars does not seem like much and a lot of that goes to companies that do not want to fully fund the program themselves. The problem seems to be that few of these programs go anywhere. If you ask them how many they fund, to what level and how many have led to anything useful, you might be surprised. They award very little and as long as the paper work and reports are filled, that is it.


I've sent proposals to several of these commission agencies, proposals for an engine to run on any and all alternative fuels and blends. Never heard back. Nada. Not even to say "thanks for your suggestion, we're putting it into the proper channels now, one flush should do it." So its not just funding levels, you need to be in the proper pork channels to get even the smallest tidbit or response. They don't seem to be asking for solutions, just advertising for th green bandwagon, something most folks are for anyway, like advertising for folks to stay healthy, its duh.


My proposals were modest and there were probably lots of them that deserved funding more than mine. But I also never heard why. I just looked at the track record of awards and where they projects ended up and came to the conclusion that this was a research subsidy more than seed funding to make real advances.

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