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$8.7M in FY 2015 funding available from USDA and DOE for bioenergy feedstocks, biofuels and bio-based products

The US Department Agriculture in collaboration with the Energy Department announced that up to $8.7 million in funding in fiscal year 2015 will be made available through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) to support feedstock development, biofuels and biobased products development, or biofuels development analysis. (USDA-NIFA-9008-004957)

The projects funded through BRDI—a joint program through the Department of Agriculture and the Energy Department—will help develop economically and environmentally sustainable sources of renewable biomass and increase the availability of renewable fuels and biobased products that can help reduce the need for gasoline and diesel fuels.

Funded projects will develop analytic tools that improve the sustainability, environmental quality, cost effectiveness, security, and rural economic development of renewable biomass technologies. Funding will also be used to develop new tools to better evaluate the environmental impact of expanded biofuel production and assess the potential for using federal land resources to sustainably increase feedstock production for biofuels and biobased products.

Feedstocks Development. This area encompasses research, development, and demonstration activities regarding feedstocks and feedstock logistics (including harvest, handling, transport, preprocessing, and storage) relevant to production of raw materials for conversion to biofuels and biobased products.

The lack of logistics systems capable of handling and delivering a sufficiently high tonnage of feedstocks year-round to support the rapid escalation of cellulosic biofuels production has been identified as a significant barrier to the expansion of a sustainable domestic biofuels industry.

Feedstocks or combinations of feedstocks that will be considered include:

  • agricultural residues;
  • energy crops (switchgrass, miscanthus, energycane, sorghum, poplar, willow, etc.);
  • forest resources (forest thinnings, wood chips, wood wastes, small diameter trees, etc.);
  • urban wood wastes;
  • oilseed crops;
  • algae;
  • animal waste; and
  • other waste streams that are byproducts of alternative energy processes.

Projects should include the use or development of the following:

  • Dedicated biofuel or industrial product crops with desired features, including enhanced productivity, broader site range, low requirements for chemical inputs, and enhanced processing characteristics;

  • Advanced crop production methods and management technologies and systems to achieve optimal yields while conserving soil and water resources;

  • Innovative equipment designs and systems for harvest, handling, preprocessing, transport, and storage that will be compatible with the biomass conversion technology;

  • Innovative uses of alternative waste streams that decrease the cost, environmental impacts, greenhouse gas footprint or complexity of renewable energy systems for small commercial applications;

  • Compatibility of the selected feedstock with potential conversion systems;

  • Strategies for integrating feedstock production into existing managed land; and

  • Generation of data that can contribute to a best management practices database.

Biofuels and Biobased Products Development. This area supports research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) activities for:

  • Development of diverse cost-effective technologies for the use of cellulosic biomass in the production of biofuels, bioenergy, and biobased products; and

  • Product diversification through technologies relevant to the production of a range of biobased products (including chemicals, animal feeds, and cogeneration power) that potentially can increase the feasibility of fuel production in a biorefinery.

In addition to cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel, USDA-NIFA and DOE-EERE will support other advanced biofuels and/or biobased products, such as biobutanol, hydrocarbons, and Fischer-Tropsch gasoline and diesel, which are still in the early stages of investigation in terms of production technologies, cost-effectiveness, and performance characteristics.

For FY 2015, DOE-EERE and USDA-NIFA identified areas of particular interest for BRDI. These areas of interest will not be given a priority over applications that address other technologies and are not intended to deter submission of applications that address other technologies. Research, development, and demonstration projects of particular interest include, but are not limited to, technologies that would address:

  • Small scale biomass densification (e.g. gasification, pyrolysis, pellets) R,D&D to address issues of local and regional production of biofuels from cellulosic feedstocks;

  • Research and development of local-scale woody biomass-to-energy conversion with a major thrust focusing on the simultaneous generation of electricity and useful heat;

  • Conversion, via biological, thermal, catalytic or chemical means, of acceptable feedstocks into advanced biofuels and/or biobased products including intermediate and end-use products;

  • Improvement of chemical and physical biomass separation that reduces capital expenses, operating costs, and energy inputs;

  • Improvement of the production and performance or commercial viability of biobased products and co-products;

  • Improvement of the potential for developing rural based processing and manufacturing of biofuels and/or biobased products;

  • Demonstration of commercial relevance of the technology, its expected marketability, and its potential commercial viability for processing and manufacturing biobased products; and

  • Demonstration of biobased products to evaluate functional and environmental performance and to facilitate amending or developing industry standards and specifications.

Biofuels and Biobased Products Development Analysis. This area seeks systems evaluation methods that can be used to optimize system performance and market potential and to quantify a project’s impact on sustainability. Successful applications will consider the life-cycle impacts including environmental, social, and economic implications that are attributable to the project.


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