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US DOE Announces Funding Of Up To $200M for Pilot and Demonstration Scale Advanced Biorefinery Projects

The US Department of Energy (DOE) issued a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for up to $200 million over six years (FY 2009 – FY 2014), subject to annual appropriations, to support the development of pilot and demonstration-scale biorefineries including the use of feedstocks such as algae and production of advanced biofuels such as bio-butanol, green gasoline and other innovative biofuels.

The FOA has two topic areas for biorefinery development: pilot-scale, minimum throughput of one dry tonne of feedstock per day with a minimum non-federal cost-share at 30%; and demonstration-scale minimum throughput of 50 dry tonnes of feedstock per day, with a minimum non-federal cost-share at 50%.

The FOA is designed to address the high technical risks associated primarily with converting bio-based feedstocks to biofuels rather than heat and power. For this FOA, DOE will not consider applications that propose refineries producing heat and power as the primary product. Projects may, however, propose producing heat and power using waste streams resulting from a biorefinery if the production of an eligible liquid transportation biofuel is the primary product.

DOE anticipates making approximately 5-12 awards under this announcement, depending on the topic area, and size of awards. The ceiling on individual awards is $40 million. Projects selected under this FOA will provide operational data that reduces the risk associated with commercialization.  The intent of this FOA is to have integrated biorefinery projects at the pilot and demonstration scale levels operational within three to four years after applicants are selected.

All projects must be located within the US, use feedstock from domestic biomass resources, and demonstrate greenhouse gas reductions on a lifecycle basis. Advanced biofuels produced from these projects are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a minimum of 50%, as determined by the Environmental Protection Agency.

This FOA adds to the more than $1 billion DOE has committed to research, development, and demonstration of cellulosic biofuels technology.

Mandatory letters of intent are due 20 February 2009, and completed applications are due 30 April 2009.




This is a step in the right direction. America needs to be energy independent. And let not allow the current low gas prices slow the drive toward energy independence. The federal government and individual states should do whatever is possible to ensure this country has a bright future as far as sustainable energy supply is concerned. Blogger James Wachai has made a very interesting post on his blog GMO Africa. He writes about how the State of Michigan has passed a law that will make readily available pertinent information on how to set up a biofuel plant in the state.


There are so many bold claims about algae, and a lot of pilot plants making biofuel from algae. One would think that in a world full of so much advanced automated production that it would be that difficult to produce to produce fuel on a massive what are the barriers? My theory is that the costs/benefits mix is unattractive for all the potential players right now ---- algae start-ups haven't yet figured out a large scale production infrasture/system, few utilities that burn coal are going to invest in something that can't make big money relatively soon, and lower gas prices simply makes the sense of urgency less urgent. It's always about the most bang of product for the least amount of dollars expended...efficiency.


This is a wide open field for energy entrepreneurs. It is not yet ready for massive scale - but each pilot delivers new insight into scaling issues. Bottom line is domestic oil is over, foreign oil is destructive, and the number of diesel consuming power plants (e.g. tractors) grows 8.0% annually.

So, someone's going to make a very large fortune in algal oil in the not too distant future. Plenty of room for wild catters who want to try new strains and processes. The fast approaching new oil boom is domestic, renewable, and green.

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