DOE awards US$21m to five projects for biomass processing

DOE announced on August 31 that it will award up to $21 million to five projects for handling and delivering high-tonnage biomass feedstocks to producers of cellulosic biofuels. The 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. Potential biomass feedstocks include agricultural residues, energy crops (switchgrass, miscanthus, sugarcane, sorghum, poplar, and willow), forest resources (forest thinnings, wood chips, wood wastes, and small diameter trees), and urban wood wastes. The awards are part of DOE's ongoing efforts to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, spur the creation of the domestic bio-industry, and provide new jobs in rural areas of the country.

Under the new awards, the Agco Corporation will demonstrate the viability of its densified, large-square-bale supply system, which the company plans to deploy at cellulosic biorefineries operated by POET in Emmetsburg, Iowa; by Abengoa Bioenergy in Hugoton, Kansas; and by Terrabon in Byron, Texas. FDC Enterprises Inc. will also support the Abengoa Bioenergy facility by testing a mowing and baling system, a bale-picking truck, and a self-loading trailer for biomass crops, while Genera Energy will develop a system for handling switchgrass. For woody biomass, Alabama's Auburn University will work with leading forest product companies to design and demonstrate a high-productivity system to harvest, process, and transport woody biomass from southern pine plantations. And the College of Environmental Science and Forestry at the State University of New York will take on short-rotation wood crops with a single-pass cut-and-chip harvester.

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