biofuel refineryThe U.S. Department of Energy announced on May 1st that it will provide up to $200 million over five years to support the development of small-scale cellulosic biorefineries in the U.S. The projects will involve designing, building, and operating biorefineries at one-tenth of commercial scale. The small-scale biorefineries will convert cellulosic biomass — trees, grasses and agricultural residues — into liquid transportation fuels such as ethanol, as well as biobased chemicals and products… (Thanks to Sophia, for the link!)

DOE expects to award funds to 5 to 10 small biorefineries that demonstrate breakthrough technologies, can quickly be moved to commercial scale and are supported by sound business strategy. Applicants must cover at least half the cost of the projects and must submit their applications by August 14th.

Demonstration projects should test key refining processes and provide operational data needed to lower the technical hurdles sometimes associated with financing a full-size commercial plant. These projects are expected to be operational within three to four years and will speed the adoption of new technologies to produce ethanol and other biofuels from cellulosic feedstocks. Commercial-scale demonstrations would follow thereafter.

DOE requests applicants to design, construct and operate an integrated biorefinery demonstration facility, employing lignocellulosic feedstocks for the production of some combination of liquid transportation fuel(s), biobased chemicals, and substitutes for petroleum-based feedstocks and products. DOE seeks projects that can rapidly move to commercial-scale, supported by a sound business strategy and encourages applications that demonstrate breakthrough technologies and collaboration between industry, universities, and DOE’s national laboratories.

Up to $15 million is expected to be available in FY’07, with the remaining $185 million expected to be available in FY’08-’11, subject to appropriation from Congress. DOE anticipates selecting 5–10 awards under this announcement. For more information on “Demonstration of Integrated Biorefinery Operations for Producing Biofuels and Chemical/Materials Products” – DE-PS36-07GO97003, visit: DOE’s E-Center.

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