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$510m Biofuel Partnership Seeks Industry Ideas

Three federal departments have requested ideas from industry on how to establish a viable market for drop-in biofuels.

Secretary of agriculture Tom Vilsack, secretary of energy Steven Chu, and secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus issued a request for information (RFI), laying out the administration’s goals, assumptions, and tools, as the next step in the creation of a public-private partnership for biofuel development. Earlier this month, President Obama announced that the departments will invest up to $510 million over the next three years to produce advanced drop-in aviation and marine biofuels to power military and commercial transportation.

Drop-in biofuels serve as direct replacements or supplements to existing gasoline, diesel and jet fuels, without any changes to existing fuel distribution networks or engines.

The main objective of the partnership is the construction or retrofit of several domestic, commercial or pre-commercial scale biofuel refineries. These facilities will produce drop-in advanced biofuels meeting military specifications, will be located in geographically diverse locations for ready market access, and will have no significant impact on the supply of agricultural commodities for the production of food, the administration says.

Representatives from USDA, DOE or Department of Navy will be present at the following events and available to answer industry questions: Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit and Expo, Honolulu, HI September 13-15; SRI in the Rockies Conference, New Orleans, LA October 2-5; Naval Energy Forum, Washington, DC October 13-14; AIChE Annual Meeting, Minneapolis, MN October 16-21; Global Cleantech 100 Summit, Washington, DC October 17-18; Florida Energy Summit (Farm to Fuel), Orlando, FL October 26-28.

In other biofuel news, a report by the International Institute for Environment and Development said that rising demand for biomass in the developed world could undermine food security and displace populations in some of the world’s poorest countries, Reuters reports.

Operators in Brazil are increasingly showing interest in exporting wood chips to Europe, and Africa is also likely to play a major role in the biomass market, the wire service reported.

The institute said that biomass energy makes up 77 percent of world renewable energy, and trees and woody plants account for 87 percent of that biomass.

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