This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.
DOE to Invest $4.4 Million in Six Biofuels Research Projects
DOE announced on September 10 that it has selected six university-led advanced biofuels projects to receive up to $4.4 million, subject to annual appropriations. The awardees—Georgia Tech Research Corporation, the University of Georgia, the University of Maine, Montana State University, Steven's Institute of Technology in New Jersey, and the University of Toledo in Ohio—will all receive funding to conduct research and development of cost-effective, environmentally friendly biomass conversion technologies for turning non-food feedstocks into advanced biofuels. Combined with a university cost share of 20%, more than $5.7 million is slated for investment in these projects.
Most of the projects will involve microbiology, including the University of Georgia and Montana State University projects, which are both focused on producing oils from algae. The University of Georgia will investigate the use of poultry litter to produce low-cost nutrients for algae, while Montana State, in partnership with Utah State University, will research the oil content, growth, and oil production of algae cultures in open ponds. Applying microbiology to biomass conversion, the University of Maine will study the use of bacteria to create biofuels from regionally available feedstocks, such as seaweed sludge and paper mill waste streams, while the University of Toledo will attempt to use pellets containing enzymes to efficiently convert cellulosic biomass into ethanol.
In contrast, Georgia Tech Research Corporation and Steven's Institute of Technology are both investigating the gasification of biomass. Georgia Tech will evaluate two experimental gasifiers run on forest residues, while Steven's Institute will test a novel microchannel reactor that gasifies pyrolysis oil, a petroleum-like oil produced by exposing biomass sources such as wood chips to high temperatures in the absence of oxygen. Gasified biomass can be used as a gaseous fuel or passed through a catalyst to produce a wide range of liquid fuels and chemicals. See the DOE press release.