WASHINGTON — The U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Energy (DOE) have earmarked $42 million to help fund eight research projects in bioenergy and biobased products, including the harvest, transport and preprocessing of biomass feedstocks.
Of the projects selected, slightly more than $5 million has been granted to the U.S. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station in Missoula, MT, for research in biomass feedstock production, logistics, conversion and distribution at existing forest industry facilities.
“These projects will help to reduce America’s dependence on imported oil by accelerating the development and commercialization of cleaner, alternative fuels that can power our vehicles and our industry,” U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement. “Producing renewable fuels from biomass right here in the United States will improve our nation’s energy security and give us an innovative edge in the global market for clean energy technologies.”
In a released statement, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “Advances made through this research will help boost rural economies by developing and testing new processing facilities and profitable, energy-rich crops that U.S. farmers and foresters will grow.”
Renewable biomass, as specified in the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, includes pre-commercial thinnings or invasive species, which would not otherwise be used for higher-value products — such as the construction of composite panels.
In related news, the USDA said it has helped remove 86,927 tons of biomass in the national forests to produce energy, as part of its Wood-to-Energy initiative launched in October 2010. The USDA is also working with the Federal Aviation Administration on a five-year plan to develop aviation fuel from forest and crop residues, as well as other feedstocks, in an effort to stabilize jet fuel costs.

Biomass research gains ground: $42 million granted 
KiOR has signed a ground fuel supply agreement with
FedEx Corporate Services. The renewable energy
company converts wood and other biomass materials
into crude oil.

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