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Information on the United States Department of Energy (DOE) and biofuels and bioenergy:


Biomass Program

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's (EERE) Biomass Program works with industry, academia and their national laboratory partners on research in biomass feedstocks and conversion technologies. Through research, development, and demonstration efforts geared at the development of integrated biorefineries, the Biomass Program is helping transform the nation's renewable and abundant biomass resources into cost competitive, high performance biofuels, bioproducts, and biopower.

The President established a goal to reduce gasoline consumption by 20 percent in 2017 through efficiency and alternative fuels and to displace 30 percent of gasoline consumption with biofuels by 2030. Therefore, the Biomass Program is focusing its R&D efforts to ensure that cellulosic ethanol is cost competitive by 2012. Another major effort of the Program is to further develop infrastructure and opportunities for market penetration of biobased fuels and products.

  • To learn more about the current research and development activites, see the technologies page.
  • Read recent publications by the Office of Biomass programs here.

Bioenergy-related offices and activities








  • Joint BioEnergy Institute team engineers E. coli to overproduce diesel-range methyl ketones; may be appropriate for blendstock, 15 March 2012 by Green Car Congress: "Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have engineered Escherichia coli bacteria to overproduce saturated and monounsaturated aliphatic methyl ketones in the C11 to C15 (diesel) range from glucose. In subsequent tests, these methyl ketones yielded high cetane numbers, making them promising candidates for the production of advanced biofuels or blendstocks."
    • "The team, led by Dr. Harry Beller, found that it was possible to increase the methyl ketone titer production of E. coli more than 4,500-fold relative to that of a fatty acid-overproducing E. coli strain by using a relatively small number of genetic modifications. Methyl ketone titers in the best producing strains were in the range of 380 mg/L."
    • "A paper describing this work was published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Co-authoring this paper were Ee-Been Goh, who is the first author on the paper, plus Edward Baidoo and Jay Keasling." [3]
  • DOE Researchers Achieve Important Genetic Breakthroughs to Help Develop Cheaper Biofuels, 22 December 2011 by Energy.gov: "Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) announced today a major breakthrough in engineering systems of RNA molecules through computer-assisted design, which could lead to important improvements across a range of industries, including the development of cheaper advanced biofuels."
    • "This will enable scientists to develop new strains of Escherichia coli (E. coli) that are better able to digest switchgrass biomass and convert released sugars to form three types of transportation fuels – gasoline, diesel and jet fuels."
    • "While the work at JBEI remains focused on the development of advanced biofuels, JBEI’s researchers believe that their concepts may help other researchers to develop many other desired products, including biodegradable plastics and therapeutic drugs."[4]
  • Magnetic algae make biofuels sticky, 21 October 2011 by MSNBC: "Scientists at a government lab in New Mexico have created what appear to be magnetic algae, a breakthrough that could lower the cost of harvesting biofuels from the microscopic plants."
    • "Current techniques for extracting algae from the ponds where they are grown include sound waves and the addition of chemicals that cause the algae to clump together, a process known as flocculation."
    • "These techniques account for about 30 percent of the total cost of algae-based biofuel production, Pulak Nath at the Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory noted, and 'is one of the limiting steps for algae fuel from becoming cost competitive to fossil fuels.'"
    • "Permanent magnets are inexpensive. In theory, algae biofuel systems could flow algae-filled water through a tank lined with the magnets and the algae will get separated from the water, Nath explained."
    • "The research, he cautioned, is in the early stages. So far, they've created one species of magnetic algae. Going forward, they will try to transfer the gene to more candidates for algae biofuel production."[5]
  • Biofuels can be commercialized rapidly for military, says industry group, 4 October 2011 by BrighterEnergy.org: "Advanced biofuels can be commercialized rapidly for military use, on military timelines, with adequate support and coordination of efforts by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Defense and Energy."
    • "That’s according to the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), which yesterday submitted comments to the Air Force’s Request for Information on the commercial status and market for advanced drop-in biofuels."
    • "Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section, stated: 'The U.S. military and the nation as a whole face a significant national security threat from U.S. dependence on foreign sources of energy and ongoing price volatility.'"
    • "'Military use of advanced biofuels could in turn validate emerging technologies and unlock private investment in future advanced biofuels production for civilian markets.'"[6]
  • White House launches biofuels initiative linked to jobs creation, 15 September 2011 by Air Transport World: "The US Departments of Agriculture and Energy and the Navy will invest up to $510 million over the next three years in partnership with the private sector to produce advanced drop-in aviation and marine biofuels to power commercial and military transportation."
    • "The biofuels initiative is being steered by the White House Biofuels Interagency Work Group and Rural Council, organizations that aim to enable greater cross-agency collaboration to strengthen rural America."
    • "The White House said there was a lack of manufacturing capability for next-generation drop-in biofuels in the US. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus have developed a plan to jointly construct or retrofit several drop-in biofuel plants and refineries."
    • "The White House said the joint plan calls for the three departments to invest a total of up to $510 million, requiring a substantial cost share from private industry of at least a one to one match."[7]
  • Department of Energy Announces up to $12 Million in Investments to Support Development and Production of Drop-In Biofuels, 31 August 2011 by EERE News: "In support of the Obama Administration's comprehensive efforts to strengthen U.S. energy security, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced up to $12 million to fund three small-scale projects in Illinois, Wisconsin, and North Carolina that aim to commercialize novel conversion technologies to accelerate the development of advanced, drop-in biofuels and other valuable bio-based chemicals."
    • "The projects, funded through DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, seek to accelerate research and development that will lead the way toward affordable, clean alternatives to fossil fuels and diversify our nation's energy portfolio."
    • "Thermochemical processes use heat and catalysts to convert biomass, in a controlled industrial environment, into liquid and gaseous intermediates—or substances formed as a necessary stage in manufacturing an end product—which can then be chemically converted into fuels and other products."[8]
  • U.S. DOE releases Billion-Ton Study follow-up report, 9 August 2011 by Biomass Power and Thermal: "A follow-up report to the U.S. DOE’s 2005 'Biomass as Feedstock for a Bioenergy and Bioproducts Industry: The Technical Feasibility of a Billion-Ton Annual Supply,' commonly referred to as the Billion-Ton Study, has found consistency with the original in terms of magnitude of resource potential under the same assumptions."
    • "But the follow up, 'U.S. Billion-Ton Update: Biomass Supply for a Bioenergy and Bioproducts Industry,' finds differences in specific feedstock availability and includes a number of elements the Billion-Ton Study did not."
    • "The initial Billion-Ton Study sought to determine whether the land resources in the United States are capable of producing a sustainable supply of biomass to displace 30 percent or more of the country’s petroleum consumption by 2030. The goal would require 1 billion tons annually, the report found, and concluded that the nation could produce 1.3 billion tons per year, about 1 billion from agricultural biomass and 368 million tons from forestlands."
    • "The forest residue potential in the updated report is determined to be somewhat less than in the original, as measured by the unused resources and by properly accounting for pulpwood and sawlog markets that provide the demand and the residue, the report states. The crop residue potential is also determined to be less because of the update’s consideration of soil carbon in crop residue removal, as well as the omission of any residue produced on land that is conventionally tilled."[9]
  • Advanced biofuels lag far behind mandates, 19 April 2011 by DesMoinesRegister.com: "Advanced biofuels are developing far slower than Congress imagined when it imposed mandates on refiners to use them, and there’s little sign the production is going to catch up with the targets."
    • "The government expects just 170 million gallons of fuel to be made from crop residue and other sources of plant cellulose by 2014, which is far short of the 1.75 billion gallons that a 2007 law requires refiners to use that year, said Paul Bryan, who manages the Energy Department’s biomass program."
    • "The Environmental Protection Agency already has slashed the mandates for biomass fuels last year and this year because very little is being produced."
    • "He said the next generation of fuels can’t be just new forms of ethanol either because ethanol will displace so much gasoline that it will create economic problems for refineries that are needed to produce diesel, jet fuel and petrochemicals."[11]
  • U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Energy Announce Funding for Biomass Research and Development Initiative, 15 April 2011 press release by U.S. Department of Energy: "To support President Obama's goal of reducing America's oil imports by one-third by 2025, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Energy (DOE) today jointly announced up to $30 million over three to four years that will support research and development in advanced biofuels, bioenergy and high-value biobased products. The projects funded through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) will help create a diverse group of economically and environmentally sustainable sources of renewable biomass and increase the availability of alternative renewable fuels and biobased products. Advanced biofuels produced from these projects are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a minimum of 50 percent compared to fossil fuels and will play an important role in diversifying America's energy portfolio."
    • "Subject to annual appropriations, USDA plans to invest up to $25 million with DOE contributing up to $5 million for this year's Biomass Research and Development Initiative. This funding is expected to support five to ten projects over three to four years. A description of the solicitation, eligibility requirements, and application instructions can be found on the FedConnect website, Fedconnect.net and the Grants.gov website under Reference Number DE-FOA-0000510. Pre-applications are due on May 31, 2011 and must be submitted electronically. It is anticipated that applicants who are encouraged to submit full applications will be notified by August 3, 2011."[12]
  • Study: Algae Could Replace 17% of Oil Imports by 2022, 13 April 2011 by DomesticFuel.com: "In a new study released by the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (NPPL), algal fuels could replace 17 percent of the United States’ imported oil by 2020. The paper was published in the journal of Water Resources Research but warned that biofuels production, including algal fuels, can require a lot of water so the study cautioned that being smart about where the algae is grown can reduce the water needed."
    • "The research team’s goal was to provide the first in-depth assessment of algal biofuels potential based on the amount of available land and water. The study also factored in how much water would need to be replaced due to evaporation over 30 years."
    • "The researchers found that 21 billion gallons of algal oil, equal to the 2022 advanced biofuels goal set out by the Energy Independence and Security Act, can be produced from American-grown algae. The study also concluded that up to 48 percent of the current transportation oil imports could be replaced with algae, but this higher production level would require significantly more water and land. The authors also found that algae’s water use is similar to other biofuel sources."[13]
  • Thune Reintroduces Legislation to Encourage Biofuel Production from National Forests, 11 April 2011 press release by South Dakota Senator John Thune: "Senator John Thune has reintroduced legislation (S.781) to fix the flawed definition of 'Renewable Biomass' included in the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, which currently excludes any material removed from national forests and most private forestlands. Under the EISA definition, cellulosic ethanol derived from this feedstock does not count toward the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) when it is used to produce biofuels, which discourages blenders and refiners from purchasing biofuels produced from these readily available sources."
    • "This proposed legislation would change the definition of 'Renewable Biomass' to more closely conform to renewable biomass definitions found in earlier versions of the RFS and the 2008 Farm Bill definition, which included waste material from national forests and private forestland."
    • "According to a 2005 U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Agriculture study, about two billion tons of treatable biomass on federal forestland is available for bioenergy production."[14]
  • Sustainable Biofuel Crops Project - Final Scientific and Progress Report (PDF File), 31 March 2011 by Conservation International: "The three-year Sustainable Biofuel Crops Project...was launched in early 2008" supported by the U.S. Department of Energy. The overall goal of the project was to support the development of a sustainable global biofuels industry by ensuring that biofuel crop production is not a threat to biodiversity."
    • "The Sustainable Biofuel Crops Project included three components...and was implemented by teams working in the U.S., Brazil, Indonesia, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Suriname."
    • "Major achievements of the Sustainable Biofuel Crops Project include:"
      • "[A]nalysis of areas of risk, and opportunity, for feedstock production...[in relation to] areas of importance for carbon sequestration and storage, water provisioning, biodiversity conservation, and staple food production".
      • Launch of the "Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool (IBAT) for Business website, which provides key decision-makers access to critical information on biodiversity priority sites to inform the decision-making processes and address any potential biodiversity impacts."
      • "[A] carbon stock assessment, ecosystem services study, and biodiversity survey in and around a protected peat swamp surrounded by areas zoned for oil palm".
    • "These results, and others outlined in the full report, have helped fill a critical need for data and information to facilitate good decisions on biofuel feedstock production, and models of successful strategies to produce feedstocks more sustainably on the ground."
    • Download the report, Sustainable Biofuel Crops Project - Final Scientific and Progress Report (PDF File)
  • The Range Fuels Fiasco, 10 February 2011 by The Wall Street Journal: "As taxpayer tragedies go, Broomfield, Colorado-based Range Fuels has all the plot elements—splashy headlines, subsidies and opportunistic venture capitalists."
    • "Vinod Khosla founded Range Fuels and in March 2007 it received a $76 million grant from the Department of Energy— one of six cellulosic projects the Bush Administration selected for $385 million in grants. Range said it would build the nation's first commercial cellulosic plant, near Soperton, Georgia, using wood chips to produce 20 million gallons a year in 2008, with a goal of 100 million gallons."
    • "By spring 2008, Range had also attracted $130 million of private funding, the largest venture investment in the nation in the first quarter of that year."
    • "In early 2010, the EPA said Range would finally produce some fuel in 2010—but only four million gallons, not 100 million, and of methanol, not cellulosic ethanol."
    • "So taxpayers have committed $162 million (along with at least that much in private financing) to produce four million gallons of a biofuel that others have been making in quantity for decades."[15]
  • Investing in the Future: USDA and DOE Back Biorefinery Development, 2 February 2011 by Biotech-Now.org: "The Agriculture Department has awarded $405 million in loan guarantees to cellulosic biofuel developers."
    • "The guarantees, which will help advanced biofuel companies secure the private equity needed to build commercial facilities, were made under the Biorefinery Assistance Program."
    • "At the same time, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the offer of a $241 million conditional loan guarantee to Diamond Green Diesel, the proposed joint venture between Valero Energy and Darling International."
    • In addition to the USDA loan guarantees, the department’s Advanced Biofuels Payment Program also announced funding for biofuel producers in 33 states. Plus, the Rural Energy for America Program released $1.6 million in grant money for 68 feasibility studies."[16]
  • Online Toolkit Fosters Bioenergy Innovation, 21 January 2011 by Biomass Program/Department of Energy: "The Department of Energy has taken critical steps toward transforming our biomass resources into clean fuels, products, and power, yet much work remains to build a competitive, successful, self-sustaining bioenergy industry."
    • "To foster the incredible potential of emerging bioenergy technologies, DOE’s Biomass Program has launched the Bioenergy Knowledge Discovery Framework (KDF), an online data sharing and mapping toolkit."
    • "The KDF provides the general public, scientists and engineers, and private sector and government leaders with extensive data, analysis, and visualization tools to monitor the bioenergy industry."
    • "Also, the KDF helps the bioenergy industry meet sustainability goals by supporting efforts to monitor air quality, water resources, and land conservation."[17]
    • To access the KDF’s web-enabled platform, go to https://www.bioenergykdf.net.


  • A wiki for the biofuels research community, 29 October 2010 by PhysOrg.com: "Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have created a technoeconomic model that should help accelerate the development of a next generation of...biofuels....This on-line, wiki-based model enables researchers to pursue the most promising strategies for cost-efficient biorefinery operations by simulating such critical factors as production costs and energy balances under different processing scenarios."
    • "'The high production cost of biofuels has been the main factor limiting their widespread adoption,' says JBEI's Daniel Klein-Marcuschamer. 'We felt that a model of the biorefinery operation that was open, transparent about the assumptions it uses, and updatable by the community of users could aid in guiding research in the direction where it is most likely to reduce the production cost of biofuels.'"
    • "Klein-Marcuschamer, a post-doctoral researcher in JBEI's Deconstruction Division, was the lead author of a paper describing this research that was published in the journal Biomass and Bioenergy. The paper is titled "Technoeconomic analysis of biofuels: A wiki-based platform for lignocellulosic biorefineries (PDF file).'"
    • "The initial JBEI technoeconomic model is formulated to simulate a lignocellulosic ethanol biorefinery that uses corn stover feedstock. Model input factors include the cost of transporting the stover to a refinery, the use of acid pre-treatments to break down lignin and enzymes to break down cellulose into simples sugars, and the fermentation of these simple sugars into ethanol using yeast. From such inputs, users can calculate the resulting energy and greenhouse gas output."[18]
  • USDA and DOE Partnership Seeks to Develop Better Plants for Bioenergy, 2 September 2010 by the US Department of Energy: "Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced research awards under a joint DOE-USDA program aimed at improving and accelerating genetic breeding programs to create plants better suited for bioenergy production."
    • "The research grants will be awarded under a joint DOE-USDA program focused on fundamental investigations of biomass genomics, with the aim of harnessing lignocellulosic materials--i.e., nonfood plant fiber--for biofuels production. Emphasis is on perennials, including trees and other nonfood plants that can be used as dedicated biofuel crops."[20]
  • The race to make fuel out of algae poses risks as well as benefits, 22 July 2010 by ClimateWire via EarthPortal: "One day, Big Algae may be competitive with Big Oil, but as researchers search for the ideal oil-producing algae strain to grow in commercial quantities, there are still a host of uncertainties standing in the way."
    • "The first is simply supply. A central question dominating algal biofuel conferences is whether the best oil-producing algae crop will come from strains occurring in nature, or if they will need to be genetically modified to enhance their fuel-producing potential."
    • "History shows that in general, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can be difficult to contain."
    • "Unlike genetically modified, or GM, corn, which has been used for some 15 years, similarly altered algae are newcomers to the scene and have not been tried outdoors before. 'Being a nascent industry, there are no existing standards for various aspects of algal biofuels production,' said an Energy Department algae road map issued last month."[21]
  • Department of Energy Announces $24 Million for Algal Biofuels Research, 28 June 2010 by the US DOE: "The U.S. Department of Energy announced today the investment of up to $24 million for three research groups to tackle key hurdles in the commercialization of algae-based biofuels."
    • "The consortia consist of partners from academia, national laboratories, and private industries that are based across the country, broadening the geographic range and technical expertise of DOE partners in the area of algal biofuels... Together, they represent a diversified portfolio that will help accelerate algal biofuels development with the objective of significantly increasing production of affordable, high-quality algal biofuels that are environmentally and economically sustainable."
    • "Despite algae's potential, many technical and economic challenges must be overcome for algal biofuels to be commercialized. To identify these hurdles and guide research and development activities, DOE convened the National Algal Biofuels Technology Roadmap Workshop, bringing together more than 200 experts and stakeholders from across the country. The Department synthesized workshop results and released a draft report for public comment in June 2009"[22]
  • DOE Announces up to $11 Million for Biofuels Technology Development, 28 May 2010 by US Department of Energy: "The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced up to $11 million in funding over three years for research and development in the area of thermochemical conversion of biomass into advanced biofuels that are compatible with existing fueling infrastructure. The objective of this funding is to improve the conversion of non-food biomass to liquid transportation hydrocarbon fuels via pyrolysis, a process that decomposes biomass using heat in the absence of oxygen to produce a bio-oil that can be upgraded to renewable diesel, gasoline, or jet fuel."
    • "DOE anticipates selecting three to four projects under this announcement and will require a minimum of 20% cost share from applicants. Selected projects will also be required to include an analysis of greenhouse gas reductions as compared with petroleum fuels."[25]
  • DOE, USDA Announce Funding for Biomass Research and Development Initiative, 6 May 2010, press release by the Department of Energy: "The U.S. Departments of Energy (DOE) and Agriculture (USDA) today jointly announced up to $33 million in funding for research and development of technologies and processes to produce biofuels, bioenergy and high-value biobased products, subject to annual appropriations."
    • "DOE also released today a new video which showcases how cellulosic biofuel technologies can help decrease U.S. dependence on foreign oil, spur growth in the domestic biofuels industry, and provide new revenue opportunities to farmers in many rural areas of the country."
    • "The video, shot at a harvesting equipment demonstration in Emmetsburg, Iowa, highlights a new way of producing ethanol from the cellulose fibers in corn cobs, not from the corn kernels. The technology generates a new opportunity for farmers to harvest and sell the cobs that they’d normally leave in the field."[26]
  • DOE juices biofuels industry with 13 “Electrofuels” grants, 30 April 2010 by Biofuels Digest: "In Washington, the U.S. Department of Energy announced that it will award $106 million in ARPA-E funding for 37 research projects that produce advanced biofuels more efficiently from renewable electricity instead of sunlight; design completely new types of batteries to make electric vehicles more affordable; and remove the carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants in a more cost-effective way."
    • "According to the DOE, 'today’s technologies for making biofuels all rely on photosynthesis – either indirectly by converting plants to fuels or directly by harnessing photosynthetic organisms such as algae. This process is less than 1% efficient at converting sunlight to stored chemical energy. Instead, Electrofuels approaches will use organisms able to extract energy from other sources, such as solar-derived electricity or hydrogen or earth-abundant metal ions. Theoretically, such an approach could be more than 10 times more efficient than current biomass approaches.'" [27]
  • Berkeley Lab To Build DOE Advanced Biofuels User Facility, 2 April 2010 by Berkeley Lab: "The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has been awarded nearly $18 million from the Recovery Act to build an advanced biofuels process development facility. Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) through its Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), this new facility will help expedite the commercialization of next generation biofuels by providing industry-scale test beds for innovative technologies."
    • "Berkeley Lab's Advanced Biofuels PDU will feature pre-treatment of biomass capabilities and bioreactors for the production of microbial or fungal enzymes that can break down biomass into fermentable sugars. The facility will also have substantial capabilities for fermentation or further conversion of sugars into advanced biofuels, along with the capacity to purify these fuels in sufficient quantities for engine testing."[28]
  • Department of Energy to Invest Nearly $18 Million for Advanced Biofuels User Facility, 31 March 2010 by U.S. Department of Energy: "[T]he Department’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will build an advanced biofuels process development facility aimed at speeding the commercialization of advanced biofuels by allowing researchers and the private sector to test and integrate innovative technologies."
    • "'The Department is committed to developing cost-effective and sustainable advanced biofuels. With this investment, we will vastly increase the capacity to test new innovative approaches on a larger, integrated scale,' said Assistant Secretary Zoi. 'Scaling up these clean energy technologies is crucial to addressing climate change and building a strong, domestic clean energy economy.'"
    • "Planned capabilities include unique pretreatment of biomass, enzyme production, fermentation for the production of multiple biofuels, and product purification in quantities sufficient for engine testing at partner institutions."[29]
  • Solazyme’s amazing algae, 18 March 2010 blog post by Marc Gunther: "Algae are so good at producing oil from sunlight and carbon dioxide that there are, by some accounts, as many as 200 companies trying to make biofuels from algae."
    • "Solazyme, a private company based in South San Francisco, stands out from the algae crowd, for a number of reasons....First, there’s the sheer variety of its products."
    • "Solazyme, unlike other startups, is 'producing large volumes of oils and fuels, and we have been for a while,' says its CEO, Jonathan Wolfson."
    • "Wolfson says:
      • 'Pretty much everyone in the space disagrees, but the conclusion that we drew is is that…algae is by far the best thing on the planet at making oil but it’s far less economically efficient at capturing photons than higher plants.
      • 'We take algae, we put them in a tank, we feed them biomass, they make oil and we take the oil out. There’s a lot of technology in the process, but that’s basically what’s happening.'"
    • "Keep in mind that algae’s a risky, crowded business. Sapphire Energy, a prominent competitor, got a $50 million DOE grant and a $54 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in January to expand its commercial-scale pond operation in New Mexico. Meanwhile, GreenFuel, another algae startup which raised venture money and signed a commercial production deal, shut down last year."[30]
  • DOE to Award Nearly $80 Million for Biofuels Research and Infrastructure, 20 January 2010 by EERE Network News: "DOE announced on January 13 its investment of nearly $80 million in advanced biofuels research and fueling infrastructure under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act."
    • A majority of the money is going to, "two biofuels consortia that will seek to break down barriers to the commercialization of algae-based and other biofuels that can be transported and sold using the existing fueling infrastructure, including refineries and pipelines."
    • "In addition, the new infrastructure projects will allow the installation of new pumps and the retrofitting of existing pumps to dispense E85, a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline."[32]


  • Scientists Identify Enzyme That Could Help Grow Biofuel Crops In Harsh Environments, 19 October 2009 by ScienceDaily: "Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory have identified a novel enzyme responsible for the formation of suberin — the woody, waxy, cell-wall substance found in cork....Adjusting the permeability of plant tissues by genetically manipulating the expression of this enzyme could lead to easier agricultural production of crops used for biofuels."
    • "For example, if certain breeds can be created that are more adept at absorbing and storing water and nutrients, the crops could be farmed in much drier climates — maybe even the desert."
    • "These approaches to biofuel agriculture would leave more-fertile land open for food crops, helping to strike a much-needed balance between the nutrition and energy needs of the world."[34]
  • Biomass 2009, 17 March 2009 in the Des Moines Register: "If there's any good news in the biofuels industry, it's tough to find it. That includes a conference the Energy Department is sponsoring this week called Biomass 2009."
    • "The view is pretty grim...and the reasons are many: The drop in the price of oil, which has hammered the corn ethanol industry; the meltdown in the financial services sector, which has dried up financing for the plants; or the many barriers to increasing the ethanol market, including the paucity of E85 stations and the so-called 'blend wall,' the limit on the amount of ethanol that can be blended into gasoline for conventional cars."[36]


  • Chu appointment delights energy campaigners, 16 December 2008 by the Financial Times: "The appointment of Steven Chu as US energy secretary has been welcomed in the US and around the world by scientists and campaigners on climate change as presaging a dramatic change in the US approach to global warming."
    • "It represents a blow to coal-fired power generation in the US, and a boost for new nuclear plants and for advanced biofuels such as cellulosic ethanol, typically made from plant waste instead of food crops."
    • "Mr Chu was instrumental in bringing to [the University of California] Berkeley a $500m grant from BP, the British oil group, to set up the Energy Biosciences Institute, a research foundation working to find new biofuels using biotechnology."
    • "He is sceptical of traditional ethanol, saying he would 'rather drink it', but has enthusiastically backed more advanced biofuels produced from non-food crops such as miscanthus, sometimes known as elephant grass."[37]
  • Obama Team Set on Environment, 11 December 2008, by the New York Times: "President-elect Barack Obama has selected...Nobel Prize-winning physicist" Steven Chu, "the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, as his energy secretary".
    • "At the Lawrence Berkeley laboratory, [Dr. Chu] has sponsored research into biofuels and solar energy and has been a strong advocate of controlling greenhouse gas emissions."[38]
    • More:
      • According to Dr. Chu's official biography, "On Chu's initiative, Lab staffers from many divisions have joined with partners from other Department of Energy labs, universities, and industry to organize the BioEnergy Institute and the Energy Biosciences Institute. Chu has also been the driving force behind a multidisciplinary energy science center known as Helios, slated to begin construction on the Berkeley Lab site in 2010."
      • "At the heart of each institute and proposal is the belief that biological engineering of non-food plants, combined with nanoscience, can create liquid fuels and electricity from sunlight."
  • Emeryville Biofuel Institute Dedicated, 2 December 2008, by the San Francisco Chronicle:
    • "The new Emeryville [California] facility, funded for five years with $135 million from the Department of Energy, has recruited renowned scientists, as well as graduate and postdoctoral students, to take on the toughest obstacles in creating new biofuels by using modern genomics and molecular biology, robotics and mass spectrometry, chemistry and materials analysis."
    • Jay Keasling "said the institute's leading scientists consult with representatives of nine companies a couple of times a year about its research. He also plans to bring in entrepreneurs who can help identify positive technology and build the business case for taking a specific technology to market."
    • "Anna Palmisano, associate director of the Department of Energy's Office of Science for Biological and Environmental Research, said the institute in Emeryville is on 'the front lines of the next green revolution.'" [39]
  • DOE, USDA Granting More Than $10M to Ten Biofuel Genomics Studies, 31 July 2008 by GenomeWeb: "The US Departments of Energy and Agriculture today said that they will provide nearly $11 million over three years to fund 10 genomics research programs that can help develop bioenergy feedstocks for use in cellulosic biofuels."
    • ""Under the joint Plant Feedstock Genomics for Bioenergy program, the DOE will contribute $8.8 million from its Office of Biological and Environmental Research, and the USDA will provide $2 million through its Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service".[41]
  • Iogen Nixes Idaho for Ethanol Plant, Picks Saskatchewan, May 9 2008 by Canadian Press:
    • "For the last two years, Iogen had leaned toward building a cellulosic ethanol facility near the community of Shelley, near where farmers already are under contract to provide the wheat and barley straw, corn leaves and stalks, and switch grass used to produce ethanol."
    • "A U.S. Department of Energy spending package included loan guarantees and an US $80 million grant for the project, estimated in 2006 to cost up to US $350 million. But in March, the Canadian government announced it had allocated $500 million for projects to build next-generation biofuels plants in Canada." [44]
  • Three New Cellulosic Biorefineries to Receive $86 Million from DOE, 23 April 2008, DOE Press Release: DOE announced on April 18 that it will invest $86 million over the next 4 years in three new cellulosic ethanol biorefineries, to be built by Ecofin, LLC; Mascoma; and RSE Pulp & Chemical, LLC. The small-scale biorefineries will produce ethanol from non-edible cellulosic biomass sources, such as corncobs, wood chips, and switchgrass. Cellulosic biomass has three main components: strong crystalline strands of cellulose, which are protected by hemicellulose, a complex carbohydrate, and the glue-like lignin...
  • DOE Responds to TIME Magazine's Criticism of Ethanol, 24 April 2008, DOE Press Release: In the April 28 issue of TIME magazine, Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman and Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer rebutted the magazine's recent article about the use and development of ethanol. In their response, the Secretaries noted that second and third generation biofuels have the potential to reduce greenhouse gases, and that modern agriculture has the capacity to manage land use responsibly -- balancing our nation's needs for both fuel and food (also see food-versus-fuel debate).



  • U.S. sees delay in big rise in alternative motor fuels, 20 September 2006, Reuters, reported that the U.S. DOE stated that goal of having alternative fuels meet 30 percent of fuel needs for cars and trucks will not be met by the mandated year of 2010, but will require an additional 20 years.
    • "New ethanol plants are coming online, but output would have to soar to 60 billion gallons a year by 2010 to replace 30 percent of petroleum-based motor fuel supplies, the DOE said."
    • "That would not be possible, according to the department, because all the corn currently grown by U.S. farmers could make just 18 billion gallons of ethanol a year."
    • "The department said achieving the 30 percent replacement fuel requirement also becomes more difficult each year because more vehicles are put on the road and vehicle miles traveled increase."[45]



Department of Energy News via RSS
The following are recent news items provided by the Department of Energy, accessed by RSS (please note that due to software issues, some characters appear incorrectly as question marks):

NREL Compares State Solar Policies to Determine Market Success
Analysts at the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have used statistical analyses and detailed case studies to better understand why solar market policies in certain states are more successful than in other states. [?]
Air Force Tests First All-Electric Vehicle Fleet in California
Air Force officials unveiled the Defense Department's first non-tactical vehicle fleet composed entirely of plug-in electric vehicles at Los Angeles Air Force Base, California. [?]
NASA and USGS Offer Climate Data App Challenge
NASA in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) kicked off a challenge that offers more than $35,000 in prizes to citizens for ideas that make use of climate data to address vulnerabilities faced by the United States as it copes with climate change. [?]
EPA Offers New ENERGY STAR Tool for Homeowners
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched its online ENERGY STAR Home Advisor tool designed to help homeowners save money and energy by improving the energy efficiency of their homes through home- improvement projects. [?]
Mapping the Frontier of New Wind Power Potential
The Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, together with the Energy Department’s Wind Program and AWS Truepower, has released maps that illustrate the potential for wind energy development using new wind turbine technologies. [?]

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