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Secretaries Bodman & Johanns Kick Off Renewable Energy Conference with $17.5 Million for Biofuels Research & Development Grants

October 11, 2006 - 1:27pm


ST. LOUIS, MO - U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Mike Johanns and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Samuel Bodman today announced nearly $17.5 million for 17 biomass research, development and demonstration projects, to help break our nation's addiction to oil.

The funding was announced while Secretaries Johanns and Bodman addressed the General Session at Advancing Renewable Energy: An American Rural Renaissance, a jointly hosted USDA-DOE conference aimed at furthering President Bush's Advanced Energy Initiative (AEI).  The AEI seeks to accelerate the commercialization of clean, affordable alternative and renewable sources of energy by changing the way we power our cars, homes and businesses.

"Americans are discovering the road to energy independence is paved with natural resources grown right here at home," Secretary Johanns said. "This is a new era for America's farmers, ranchers and rural communities as they seize this moment where opportunity meets need, and where American ingenuity breaks a century long addiction to oil."

"This funding will spur new scientific innovation that will help us kick our over-reliance on oil," Secretary Bodman said.  "President Bush's policies, like the Advanced Energy Initiative, have demonstrated a strong commitment to a secure energy and economic future.  By investing in our nation's promising researchers we are closer to making clean, affordable alternative sources of energy a reality."

Grants announced today are intended to develop technologies necessary to help make bio-based fuels cost-competitive with fossil fuels in the commercial market.  The projects selected will carry out research, development and demonstrations on biobased products, bioenergy, biofuels, and biopower.  Of the $17,492,466 announced today, $12,784,733 is funded by USDA (FY'06) and $4,707,733 is funded by DOE (FY'06-'08).  DOE funds go to three projects developing cellulosic biomass.  USDA will provide funding to address such topics as feedstock production and product diversification.

Under the Biomass Research and Development Initiative, a joint USDA-DOE effort established in 2000 and reauthorized in the comprehensive Energy Policy Act of 2005, award projects must demonstrate collaboration among experts in the field of biomass.  The Initiative aims to enhance creative approaches in developing next generation advanced technologies; and promote research partnerships among colleges, universities, national laboratories, federal and state research agencies and the private sector.

Advancing Renewable Energy was designed to address one of the greatest challenges facing the world: increasing the availability of clean and affordable energy to reduce global dependence on fossil fuels.  This conference brings together leaders in government as well as finance, energy, and agriculture.  Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy and while USDA and DOE continue to lead the federal research and development effort, government looks to industry to stimulate private investment and competition necessary to spur the adoption of new technologies. 

Advancing Renewable Energy conference goals include:

  • Identifying major issues including partnership opportunities facing decision makers both within government and in the private sector.
  • Identifying critical pathways to rapid deployment of renewable energy technologies; while recognizing and then making policy recommendations for resolving these issues.
  • Examining policy incentives such as tax credits, loan guarantees, expedited approval processes, and other measures to increase certainty, reduce risk, and accelerate the deployment of new energy sources.
  • Joining with stakeholders to strengthen and expand current energy infrastructure, which will lead to the continued growth and diversification of our nation's renewable sources of energy. 

President Bush, most notably, drew attention to our nation's energy issues in his most recent 2006 State of the Union Address, when he noted our nation's addiction to oil.  To combat this problem, the President announced his Advanced Energy Initiative to enhance a clean, secure energy future, and provides a 22-percent increase in clean energy funding at DOE.  For additional information about the President's AEI, visit:

President Bush is scheduled to address Advancing Renewable Energy: An American Rural Renaissance, on Thursday, October 12.

The following 17 entities have been selected as grant recipients:

Edenspace Systems Corp (VA). - $ 1,926,900
Grant Purpose: Development of commercial corn hybrids engineered for enhanced, low-cost conversion of cellulosic biomass to ethanol.

Center for Technology Transfer (WI) - $1,521,800
Grant Purpose: Stabilizing value of biomass material before processing.

Lucigen Corporation (WI) - $1,259,000
Grant Purpose: Novel enzyme products for the conversion of defatted soybean meal to ethanol.

Ceres, Inc. (CA) - $$1,523,530
Grant Purpose: Enhance economic competitiveness of bio-based fuels through product diversification.

Ceres, Inc. (CA) - $1,572,460
Grant Purpose: Double switchgrass yield by 2020 (cellulosic ethanol).

Western Governors' Association (CO) - $290,246
Grant Purpose: Strategic development of bioenergy in the western states.

Southern Illinois University (IL) - $676,722
Grant Purpose: Expansion of ethanol production in the Upper Mississippi River Basin.

DOE"s Argonne National Laboratory (IL) - $400,000
Grant Purpose: Enhance animal feed values in corn dry mills with bio-based solvents.

Iowa Corn Promotion Board- $1,762,157
Grant Purpose: Add value to commercial polymers through the incorporation of biomass-derived materials.

Louisiana State University Agriculture Center - $791,865
Grant Purpose: Natural fiber and commingled waste plastic project.

Michigan State University (MI) - $376,616
Grant Purpose: Develop environmental information on corn and soybean cropping systems and platform chemical production.

SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (NY) - $813,450
Grant Purpose: Willow biomass crop management.

Clarkson University (NY) - $250,001
Grant Purpose: Waste biomass feedstocks for ethanol fuel production. 

North Carolina State University - $435,997
Grant Purpose: Strategic positioning of biofuels in the context of agriculture, crude oil and auto manufacturing.

The Pennsylvania State University - $579,340
Grant Purpose: Lignin conversion to value-added materials.

Drexel University - $1,312,389
Grant Purpose: Improve bio-based polymers for moisture barrier applications.

Virent Energy Systems, Inc.(WI) - $2,000,000
Grant Purpose: Co-production of propylene glycol with biodiesel production.

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Media contact(s):

DOE: Craig Stevens, (202) 586-4940
USDA: Jim Brownlee, (202) 720-4623