WASHINGTON, DC (AP) — U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced today that up to $21 million will be made available for the selection of five projects that will develop supply systems to handle and deliver high tonnage biomass feedstocks for cellulosic biofuels production. The awards announced today are part of the department's ongoing efforts to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, spur the creation of the domestic bio-industry and provide new jobs in many rural areas of the country.
Biofuels will play an important role in America's clean energy portfolio, Secretary Chu said. These projects will allow us to decrease our dependence on foreign oil, support the growth of the biofuels industry and create jobs here at home.
Today's announcement is in response to a funding opportunity announcement issued by DOE back in March. The chosen awards were selected as the best projects to stimulate the design and demonstration of a comprehensive system to handle the harvesting, collection, preprocessing, transport, and storage of sufficient volumes of sustainably produced feedstocks. Feedstocks or combinations of feedstocks that were considered include: agricultural residues, energy crops (e.g., switchgrass, miscanthus, energycane, sorghum, poplar, willow), forest resources (e.g., forest thinnings, wood chips, wood wastes, small diameter trees), and urban wood wastes.
Projects selected for negotiation of awards:
Agco Corporation of Duluth, GA (up to $5 million) will seek to demonstrate the viability of the densified, large square bale (LSB) as a least-cost, near-term means for supplying high tonnage biomass feedstocks to cellulosic biofuel processors. Agco plans to use the LSB supply system to fulfill the feedstocks needs of biorefineries in Emmetsburg, IA, Hugoton, KS (Abengoa), and the Terrabon biorefinery in Bryan, TX. The project will deploy, evaluate, and improve upon an industrial-scale feedstock supply chain capable of provisioning crop residues and herbaceous energy crops to biorefineries in the densified format. Throughout the course of the project, demonstration will include all stages of the biomass supply chain, beginning with field harvest and continuing through storage and preprocessing.
Auburn University of Auburn, Alabama (up to $4.9 million) will work with leading producers of forest biomass for energy in Alabama to design and demonstrate a high productivity system to harvest, process, and transport woody biomass from southern pine plantations. Specific project objectives are to develop design improvements in tree-length harvesting machines for energy plantations, configure and assemble a high- productivity, lowest-cost harvesting and transportation system for biomass, and demonstrate at full industrial scale and document performance of the harvesting, storage, pre-processing, and transportation system.
FDC Enterprises Inc. of Columbus, Ohio (up to $4.9 million) will primarily target Abengoa Bioenergy's cellulosic biorefinery, which is currently under development in Hugoton, Kansas. FDC Enterprises Inc.'s project plans to complete design, fabrication, and demonstration of three types of innovative new harvest and biomass handling machines, including a single-pass mowing and baling operation, a Bale Picking Truck, and a Self Loading Trailer. Annual demonstration harvests will be performed on large- acre tracts of biomass feedstocks. Available plots of high yielding energy crops, including miscanthus and biosorghum, will also be harvested.
Genera Energy, LLC of Knoxville, Tennessee (up to $4.9 million) will supply low-moisture switchgrass with an efficient bulk-format system that maximizes automated conveyance and handling. The project aims to achieve an overall process where switchgrass is dry chopped into bulk format on the farm, hauled to a nearby satellite location, stored in a protective facility, bulk compacted into trailer, and efficiently hauled (80 km) for unloading at the handling unit of the biorefinery.
The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry of Syracuse, New York (up to $1.3 million) plans to build on existing collaborative efforts among the project partners to develop, test, and deploy a single- pass cut-and-chip harvester combined with a handling, transportation, and storage system that is effective and efficient in a range of different short-rotation wood crops (SRWC) production systems throughout North America. The system aims to reduce the costs associated with harvesting and transportation, provide consistent quality material to meet end user specifications, improve environmental attributes, and accelerate the deployment of SRWC.
To learn more about feedstocks efforts at the DOE and related funding opportunities, visit the Biomass Program's Web site.