Category Archives: Biofuels

Department of Energy Issues Draft Renewable Energy and Efficient Energy Projects Solicitation to Foster Clean Energy Innovation

In support of the Administration’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, the Department of Energy issued a draft loan guarantee solicitation today for innovative renewable energy and energy efficiency projects located in the U.S. that avoid, reduce, or sequester greenhouse gases. When finalized, the solicitation is expected to make as much as $4 billion in loan guarantees available to help commercialize technologies that may be unable to obtain full commercial financing. This draft solicitation represents another step in the Department’s commitment to help overcome the financial barriers to the deployment of innovative, clean energy technologies.

“Through our existing renewable energy loan guarantees, the Department’s Loan Programs Office helped launch the U.S. utility-scale solar industry and other clean energy technologies that are now contributing to our clean energy portfolio,” said Secretary Ernest Moniz. “We want to replicate that success by focusing on technologies that are on the edge of commercial-scale deployment today.”

The Renewable Energy and Efficient Energy Projects Loan Guarantee solicitation is intended to support technologies that are catalytic, replicable, and market ready. Within the draft solicitation, the Department has included a sample list illustrative of potential technologies for consideration. While any project that meets the eligibility requirements is eligible to apply, the Department has identified five key technology areas of interest: advanced grid integration and storage; drop-in biofuels; waste-to-energy; enhancement of existing facilities; and efficiency improvements.

The Department welcomes public comment on a range of issues and will consider public feedback in defining the scope of the final solicitation. In addition to initiating a 30-day public comment period, a schedule of public meetings will be posted on the Department’s website. The draft solicitation can be found online at

Once the solicitation is finalized, the Department’s Loan Programs Office (LPO) will be accepting applications in three areas, which also include the $8 billion Advanced Fossil Energy Projects Solicitation that was released in December 2013 and the $16 billion Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program.

Currently, the LPO supports a diverse portfolio of more than $30 billion in loans, loan guarantees, and commitments, supporting more than 30 projects nationwide. The projects that LPO has supported include one of the world’s largest wind farms; several of the world’s largest solar generation and thermal energy storage systems; and more than a dozen new or retooled auto manufacturing plants across the country.


Vilsack talks about USDA efforts to further advanced biofuels

Read the full story in Ethanol Producer Magazine.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack testified about the farm bill and the rural economy, during a U.S. House of Representatives Committee hearing. As part of that, he talked about the USDA’s work to create markets for advanced biofuels.

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Posted by on April 14, 2014 in Biofuels


Designed for Deconstruction: trees for easier pulping, papermaking

Read the full post at Smart Planet.

Lignin is a naturally-occurring polymer commonly found in wood. Housed in the cell walls, it keeps plants upright, but it makes wood hard to break down for a number of industrial processes — including biofuel production, pulping, and papermaking. Making lignin that’s easier to degrade means those huge, worldwide processes would generate less waste and require less energy, lower temperatures, and fewer chemicals.
Now, researchers say they’ve designed plant cell walls that fall apart, self-destructing under mild processing conditions. The work could slash the cost and energy needed to turn biomass into fuel.
To get rid of lignin, engineers typically heat biomass to 170 degrees Celsius (that’s over 500 degrees Fahrenheit) for several hours in the presence of alkaline compounds, Science reports. Its structure contains ether bonds that are difficult to degrade chemically; researchers have hoped to introduce weaker ester bonds into the lignin backbone. Previous work has suggested that the key may lie in the natural process of lignin assembly: from a pool of single molecules called monomers into a more complex polymer chain. The process could be engineered to incorporate new monomers that aren’t native to lignin — something new that could increase its degradability.
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Posted by on April 8, 2014 in Biofuels, Biomass, Pulp & paper


Study: Rural economies to benefit from bioenergy

Read the full story in Biomass Magazine.

According to a new paper authored by two University of Missouri professors, rural regions are poised to benefit from bioenergy.

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Posted by on April 1, 2014 in Biofuels, Biomass, Publications


Minn. bills to incentivize biofuel, biochemicals, biomass thermal

Read the full story in Biomass Magazine.

Legislation pending in the Minnesota Legislature aims to create incentives for renewable chemicals, advanced biofuels, and biomass thermal energy.

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Posted by on April 1, 2014 in Biofuels, Biomass, Green chemistry


5 key issues in the fight for better fuel

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Commercial fleet operators, their value chain operators and policymakers can create change by paying attention to these big ideas.

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Posted by on March 19, 2014 in Biofuels, Transportation


Michigan State University advances algae’s viability as a biofuel

Read the full story in Biodiesel Magazine.

Lab success doesn’t always translate to real-world success. A team of Michigan State University scientists, however, has invented a new technology that increases the odds of helping algae-based biofuels cross that gap and come closer to reality.

The current issue of Algal Research showcases the team’s invention—the environmental photobioreactor. The ePBR system is the world’s first standard algae growing platform, one that simulates dynamic natural environments.

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Posted by on March 12, 2014 in Biofuels, Publications


Siting Algae Cultivation Facilities for Biofuel Production in the United States: Trade-Offs between Growth Rate, Site Constructability, Water Availability, and Infrastructure

Erik R. Venteris, Robert C. McBride, Andre M. Coleman, Richard L. Skaggs, and Mark S. Wigmosta (2014). “Siting Algae Cultivation Facilities for Biofuel Production in the United States: Trade-Offs between Growth Rate, Site Constructability, Water Availability, and Infrastructure.” Environmental Science & Technology Article ASAP. DOI: 10.1021/es4045488.

Abstract: Locating sites for new algae cultivation facilities is a complex task. The climate must support high growth rates, and cultivation ponds require appropriate land and water resources, as well as transportation and utility infrastructure. We employ our spatiotemporal Biomass Assessment Tool (BAT) to select promising locations based on the open-pond cultivation of Arthrospira sp. and strains of the order Sphaeropleales. A total of 64 000 sites across the southern United States were evaluated. We progressively applied screening criteria and tracked their impact on the number of potential sites, geographic location, and biomass productivity. Both strains demonstrated maximum productivity along the Gulf of Mexico coast, with the highest values on the Florida peninsula. In contrast, sites meeting all selection criteria for Arthrospira were located along the southern coast of Texas and for Sphaeropleales were located in Louisiana and southern Arkansas. Results were driven mainly by the lack of oil pipeline access in Florida and elevated groundwater salinity in southern Texas. The requirement for low-salinity freshwater (<400 mg L–1) constrained Sphaeropleales locations; siting flexibility is greater for salt-tolerant species like Arthrospira. Combined siting factors can result in significant departures from regions of maximum productivity but are within the expected range of site-specific process improvements.

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Posted by on March 12, 2014 in Biofuels, Publications


Is switchgrass the best option for biofuels?

Read the full post at EnvironmentalResearchWeb.

Biofuels are often seen as a solution for environmentally sound transportation. A new lifecycle analysis study, which for the first time includes albedo change, shows that the choice of crop and its location is critical. In the worst-case scenario, biofuels can produce seven times as much climate warming as fossil fuel, while in the best-case scenarios biofuels can negate half the emissions produced by burning the equivalent amount of crude oil.


Bioenergy Legislative Library

The Bioenergy KDF Legislative Library allows users to search for information about both passed and pending legislation relevant to the production and use of biofuels in the United States. To get started, click on the “Legislators,” “Related Bills,” or “Committees” tabs and browse the database for information about the representatives, groups, and legislation that interest you.

Bioenergy KDF has also developed the Bioenergy Library, which contains hundreds of publications, data sets, and models specifically related to bioenergy production, distribution, delivery, and end use.

Many of the Bioenergy Library publication records include abstracts and links to full-text content, while certain data sets can be added to and visualized on the KDF Map. Users also have the ability to comment on entries and share links with others via email and social networking sites. Registered users can also save library resources in the “My Notebook” section of the KDF.


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