Biofuel, Biorefinery, Government, Investments

US agencies invest in biorefineries

As part of a 2011 Presidential directive, the Departments of Navy, Energy, and Agriculture announced today that three companies have been awarded contracts to construct and commission biorefineries capable of producing “drop-in” biofuels to meet the transportation needs of the military and private sector. Made through the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Defense Protection Act (DPA) of 1950, the awards support the Administration’s goals to boost and diversify the domestic fuel supply base, make American warfighters less beholden to volatile oil markets, and strengthen national security.

In total, these projects will produce more than 100 million gallons of military grade fuel beginning in 2016 and 2017 at a price competitive with their petroleum counterparts.

The drop-in alternative fuels can be blended at a 50/50 ratio with traditional fossil fuels. This blend was successfully demonstrated during the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) demonstration in 2012 for ships and planes, showing firsthand that this fuel can be utilized in Navy’s warfighting platforms with no degradation to performance or mission. As these fuels become more available, the Department of the Navy will make advanced drop-in biofuel a regular part of its bulk fuel procurement, ushering in the “new normal” of Naval supremacy.

The companies receiving federal investments for the construction and commissioning of biorefineries are:

  • Emerald Biofuels: To build an 82 million gallon/year refinery on the Gulf Coast using waste fats to create military grade fuel.
  • Fulcrum BioEnergy: To build a 10 million gallon per year refinery in McCarran, Nevada, using municipal solid waste as its feedstock and the Fischer-Tropsch process to create fuel. On Sept. 4, USDA announced a $105 million Biorefinery Assistance Program loan guarantee to Fulcrum BioEnergy for the construction of this facility.
  • Red Rock Biofuels: To build a 12 million gallon per year refinery in Lakeview, Oregon, using woody biomass, or the by-products of forest management, as its feedstock and the Fischer-Tropsch process to create a refined product.

About Doris de Guzman

Will Green Chemistry save the world or is it hype? Doris de Guzman examines alternative processing, new technology, R&D and other sustainability initiatives aimed at preventing pollution; replacing ingredients; and using renewable feedstocks in Green Chemistry. She has been covering the oleochemicals market for 15 years and spread her beat to inorganics, biofuels and green chemistry.

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