USDA awards green funds

More than $24 million (€16.1 million) has been awarded to various projects by the US Department of Agriculture and Energy (USDA) to help support research into biofuels, bioenergy and biobased products.

The projects that will be aided by these grants include Gevo, Exelus, Oklahoma State University, Itaconix, Purdue University and GE Global Research.

Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, said: ‘The selected projects will help make bioenergy production from renewable resources more efficient, cost-effective and sustainable. This work will also benefit rural America by leading to new processing plants and new opportunities for US farmers and foresters.’

The DoE plans to invest up to $4.9 million with USDA to contribute up to $19.5 million.

The projects must contribute up to a minimum of 20% of their grant for research and development and 50% of funds for demonstration projects. Funding for the grant is provided through USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and DOE’s Biomass Program.

Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, said: ‘Innovation is crucial to the advancement of alternative, renewable energy sources, and these awards will spur the research needed to make significant progress in bioenergy development’.

Oklahoma State University was awarded the largest grant and look forward to putting $4.2 million to the best use. Oklahoma State research and develop the best practices and technologies necessary to ensure efficient, sustainable and profitable production of cellulosic ethanol feedstocks.

Biobutanol technology developer Gevo has received a $1.8 million grant to help fund the development of its yeast strain to produce biobutanol from cellulosic biomass.

David Glassner, executive vice president of technology at Gevo, said: ‘Cellulosic conversion technology is expected to be commercialised in the next few years. Gevo wants to be ready when this happens with a yeast strain we can deploy to make biobutanol.’

Gevo will be collaborating with the international food company Cargill to develop an organism that will be cost effective at a commercial scale.

Gevo recently announced the opening of its 1 million gallon per year demonstration plant.

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