DOE and USDA Award $10 Million to Advance Biofuels, Bioenergy, and Biobased Products

New funding from the DOE and USDA will support projects focused on the development of cost-effective technologies for the use of cellulosic biomass in the production of biofuels and bioenergy.

U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE)

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded up to $10 million in funding, available through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI). With up to $3 million in available funding, DOE has selected two projects from Ohio State University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology that will receive between $1 million to $2 million. The USDA is funding five projects for a total of $7.3 million, and selections include the University of California-Riverside, the University of Montana, Missoula, the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, the State University of New York, and Pennsylvania State University. 

The two DOE projects will focus on the development of diverse cost-effective technologies for the use of cellulosic biomass in the production of biofuels, bioenergy, as well as a range of biobased products (including chemicals, animal feeds, and power) that potentially can increase the economic feasibility of fuel production in a biorefinery.

The two selections will integrate science and engineering research in biofuels and biobased product development, one of the three topic areas for this funding opportunity. The DOE selections are:

  • The Ohio State University (OSU), Columbus, OH – The OSU project is titled “Biomass Gasification for Chemicals Production Using Chemical Looping Techniques.” OSU proposes to develop the biomass to syngas (BTS) chemical looping process for efficient production of value-added chemicals and liquid fuels from biomass. This BTS process is expected to deliver high quality syngas from biomass in a single step, with a potential to reduce capital costs for syngas production by 44% compared to conventional processes.  
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA – The MIT project is titled “Improving Tolerance of Yeast to Lignocellulose-derived Feedstocks and Products.”  The primary goal of this research is to enhance production of cellulosic ethanol by improving tolerance towards three common inhibitors during cellulosic ethanol production. This same tolerance mechanism is expected to also enhance production of products beyond ethanol, such as monoethylene glycol, an important precursor material used in the production of bottling, fabrics, and anti-freeze.  

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