This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

December 04, 2007

DOE Invests $7.7 Million in Biomass Gasification for Biofuels

DOE announced on December 4th that four cellulosic biofuel projects will receive up to $7.7 million in funding over the next three years. When combined with the industry cost share, more than $15.7 million will be invested in the four projects from fiscal year 2008 to fiscal year 2010. The four projects will be headed up by Emery Energy Company of Salt Lake City, Utah; Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa; Research Triangle Institute of Research Triangle Park, North Carolina; and the Southern Research Institute of Birmingham, Alabama.

The projects will investigate the thermochemical conversion process of turning switchgrass, corn stover, and the non-edible parts of other organic materials into biofuel. The four projects will develop technologies for converting biomass into a gas at high temperatures (a process called gasification); for removing tars, oils, and other impurities from the resultant high-temperature "syngas;" and for cooling the gas for use in other processes. Syngas is typically converted into biofuels such as ethanol with the use of a catalyst, but Iowa State University is teaming with ConocoPhilips in a project that will feed the syngas directly into a petroleum refinery. See the DOE press release.

Including this new funding, DOE has announced more than $1 billion in multi-year funding for biofuels research and development this year. This includes $385 million for commercial-scale biorefineries, $200 million for pilot-scale biorefineries working on novel refining processes, more than $400 million for bioenergy centers, and $23 million for developing more efficient microbes for ethanol refining. For more information on these funding announcements, see the February 28th, March 27th, and June 26th press releases from DOE.