DOE to invest nearly $18 million for advanced biofuels user facility

DOE announced on March 31 that its Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will build an advanced biofuels process development facility using $18 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. The new lab, called the Advanced Biofuels Process Development Unit, is designed to speed the commercialization of advanced biofuels by allowing researchers and the private sector to test and integrate innovative technologies. Planned capabilities include biomass pretreatment, enzyme production, fermentation for the production of multiple biofuels, and product purification in quantities sufficient for engine testing at partner institutions. The facility will be available for public use when it becomes fully operational in early 2011.

The new facility will contribute to the goals of the DOE's Biomass Program, which has awarded nearly $718 million in Recovery Act funds to speed the growth of a sustainable U.S. bioindustry. These investments will help industry reach the mandated production requirements for advanced biofuels, which increase from 950 million gallons per year in 2010 to 21 billion gallons by 2022. Advanced biofuels are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and can be produced from diverse non-food biomass such as forestry and agricultural residues, mill wastes, energy crops, and sorted municipal solid waste. See the DOE press release and the Biomass Program Web site.

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