Energy Department Announces Up to $14 Million for Applying Landscape Design to Cellulosic Bioenergy

“The Energy Department today announced up to $14 million to support landscape design approaches that maintain or enhance the environmental and socio-economic sustainability of cellulosic bioenergy through the improvement of feedstock production, logistics systems, and technology development. This supports the Department’s efforts to promote the commercialization of environmentally sustainable advanced bioenergy that reduces petroleum consumption and carbon emissions, as well as enhances national security.”

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Departments of Energy and Agriculture Announce Bioenergy Projects in 10 States

“The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the selection of 10 projects that will receive funding aimed at accelerating genetic breeding programs to improve plant feedstocks for the production of biofuels, biopower, and bio-based products. The investment is part of the Obama Administration’s broader effort to diversify the nation’s energy portfolio and accelerate development of new clean energy technologies designed to decrease dependence on foreign oil, providing a more secure future for America’s energy needs and enhancing rural economies.”

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Microbes Make Fuel Directly From Biomass

"Hopes for affordable transportation fuels from biomass with a sustainable, carbon neutral route to American energy independence has been held up by the economics of the biomass conversion process. We’ve seen a lot, sugarcane and corn ethanol which works, various heating methods that remain uneconomic and vast array of organisms trying to make fuels from sunlight and an assortment of carbon sources. So far, industrial scale has only seen sugarcane and corn ethanol go to market in a big way and due to detractors is getting stuck in place from an impressive disinformation campaign."

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USDA Announces Funding Availability for Biomass Material into Energy

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will begin accepting applications June 16 from energy facilities interested in receiving forest or agricultural residues to generate clean energy. The support comes through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), which was authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

BCAP provides financial assistance to farmers and ranchers who establish and maintain new crops of energy biomass, or who harvest and deliver forest or agricultural residues to a qualifying energy facility. Of the total $25 million per year authorized for BCAP, the 2014 Farm Bill provides up to 50 percent ($12.5 million) each year for matching payments for the harvest and transportation of biomass residues. BCAP matching payments will resume this summer, while crop incentives will begin in 2015. Some matching payments will support the removal of dead or diseased trees from National Forests and Bureau of Land Management public lands.  This will be turned into renewable energy while reducing the risk of forest fire. Agriculture residues, such as corn cobs and stalks, also may qualify as energy-producing feedstock.

With the 2014 Farm Bill requiring several regulatory updates to BCAP, the resumption of payments for starting and maintaining new sources of biomass (Project Areas) has been deferred until a later date when the regulatory updates occur.

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), which administers BCAP, will begin accepting applications from biomass conversion facilities beginning June 16, 2014, through July 14, 2014.  Information on funding availability can be found in the Federal Register notice at:

For more details on applications and deadlines on BCAP, visit a local FSA county office or go online to:

Research Makes Switchgrass Ethanol Cheaper to Produce

"Researchers at the University of Georgia have made a leap ahead in the work to convert switchgrass to a biofuel, a discovery that might make the plants economical to make fuels. The scientists engineered a bacterium called Caldicellulosiruptor bescii, which can convert switchgrass to ethanol without the costly step of pretreatment. Traditionally, biofuel makers have had to pretreat biomass such as switchgrass and miscanthus (which are called lignocellulosic plants) in order to break down plant cell walls before fermentation."

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Engineered Microbe Could Ease Switch to Grass

"Researchers from the University of Georgia and at Tennessee’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have engineered the thermophilic bacterium Caldicellulosiruptor bescii to directly convert switchgrass into ethanol, according to a study published today (June 2) in PNAS. The new approach eliminates the need for expensive chemical and enzymatic treatments required to prepare grasses for ethanol production, potentially easing the way for use of sustainable feedstocks like switchgrass to produce biofuels."

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