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USDA, DOE Announce $18 Million Solicitation for Biomass Research and Development

June 11, 2007 - 1:40pm

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WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced a combined total of up to $18 million will be available for research and development of biomass-based products, biofuels, bioenergy and related processes.  USDA and DOE are issuing these grant solicitations for several types of projects aimed at increasing the availability of alternative and renewable fuels, which will help further President Bush's bold energy initiatives, including Twenty in Ten.  The Twenty in Ten Initiative promotes greater energy security through increased efficiency and diversification of energy sources.  USDA will provide up to $14 million and DOE will provide up to $4 million (FY'07).

"Making these funds available represents this Administration's ongoing commitment to promoting clean energy technologies to help diversify our nation's energy mix in an environmentally sensitive way," Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said.  "I am hopeful that these projects will play a critical role in furthering our knowledge of how we can cost effectively produce more homegrown, bio-based products to help reduce our reliance on imported sources of energy."

"These grants are one of many steps we are taking to meet the President's goals of reducing petroleum dependency," Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said from South Dakota, where he was addressing the Western Governor's Association. "They will fund essential research that not only will lead to the creation of new, sustainable energy sources, but also will create new uses and markets for agricultural products."

The $18 million solicitation will fund projects in the following four categories (the share of overall funding is noted in parenthesis): the development of technologies to convert cellulosic biomass into intermediaries for biobased fuels (45 percent); product diversification (30 percent); feedstock production (20 percent); and analysis for strategic guidance (5 percent).

Johanns cited how research and development (R&D) efforts outlined in past grant awards could develop technology that support the goals of the President's 20 in 10 Initiative.  In Indiana and Illinois, researchers from both the public and private sector are working to improve dry mill fractionation.  The goal is to increase ethanol production from corn and, as a by-product of that, to produce protein additives for cattle feed. It is anticipated that ethanol production estimates could increase significantly if this research is successful and implemented within the dry mill fractionation process.  When this technology is implemented, energy savings annually are estimated at about 1,500 billion BTU's per dry mill.  In addition, penetration at a level of 70% of the dry mills with this technology could produce an additional 1.2 billion gallons of ethanol from corn and an additional production of 130 million barrels of biodiesel.

Reducing our reliance imported sources of energy is one of President Bush's top priorities.  In effort to break our addiction to oil, the President's Farm Bill proposal includes $1.6 billion in new renewable energy funding for USDA.  It seeks $500 million over 10 years to expand the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Program, $500 million for bioenergy and biobased research, and $210 million to support $2.1 billion in loan guarantees for energy efficiency measures, with a significant focus on cellulosic ethanol. Since 2002, USDA has awarded $58.1 million in grants to 55 projects in 27 states and the District of Columbia under the Biomass Research and Development Initiative.  Since the beginning of 2007, DOE has announced nearly $1 billion in funding for biofuels R&D.

Maximum award amounts will not exceed $1 million.  Eligible applicants include state and federal research agencies, national laboratories, private-sector groups and nonprofit organizations.  Consortia of two or more groups also are encouraged to apply.  The closing date for pre-applications is July 11, 2007.  Preapplications must be submitted electronically through Grants.gov.  Prospective grantees whose pre-applications have been selected for further processing must submit final applications within 45 days of the notification.

Additional information on these grant solicitations is available on Grants.gov.

Additional information on President Bush's Twenty in Ten Initiative.

Media contact(s):

DOE: Julie Ruggiero, (202) 586-4940
USDA: Tim McNeilly (202) 720-4581

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