U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Andy Karsner recently announced the DOE’s decision to invest over $33 million for four projects, all of which focus on making advancements in biofuels production technology. Combined with industry cost share, up to $70 million will be invested over the course of Fiscal Years 2008-2011. Primary goals of the projects center on improved enzyme systems to convert cellulosic material into sugars suitable for production of biofuels.

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DOE announces over $33 million in funds to advance biofuels production technology.

“Success of these projects will play a pivotal role in the rapid development and deployment of renewable fuels to reduce emissions and dependence on foreign oil, and fundamentally change how we power our vehicles,” said Assistant Secretary Karsner. “Supported by the President’s ambitious plan to dramatically reduce U.S. gasoline consumption by twenty percent in ten years, the Department is on track to bring online more clean, abundant, affordable and domestically produced biofuels at a rate and scale that will have a substantial impact on our entire transportation sector. In the interest of the environment, energy, and economic and national security, biofuels must continue to play a significant role as we work to diversify our nation’s energy sources and provide a balanced portfolio of science and technology solutions to help meet the rapidly growing demand for energy worldwide.”

The funded projects have demonstrated ability to reduce the cost of enzymes-per-gallon by improving an enzyme’s performance. In the past, breaking down processed biomass into fermentable sugar has proved challenging, especially in terms of efficiency and cost. Projects must produce enzymes at a commercial-scale and market enzymes or enzyme production systems in biorefinery operations.

The four selected projects include DSM Innovation Center, Inc., of Parsippany, NJ; Genencor – a Division of Danisco, USA, Inc., of Palo Alto, CA; Novozymes, Inc., of Davis, CA; and, Verenium Corporation of San Diego, CA. Negotiations between these companies and DOE will begin immediately to determine final project plans and funding levels.

Assistant Secretary Karsner’s announcement comes as part of over $1 billion the DOE has announced within the last year for multi-year biofuels research and development projects. All projects are in an effort to advance the Bush Administration’s long-term goal of enhancing the nation’s energy, economic, and national security by reducing our nation’s dependence on foreign oil supply.

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