Biofuel R&D to receive up to $25m in federal funding

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The US Departments of Energy and Agriculture will allocate up to $25 million in research and development funding for biofuels, including aviation fuels, as well as bioenergy and bio-based products through the US Food, Conservation and Energy Act passed last year.

The departments issued a joint funding opportunity announcement (FOA) for feedstocks development, biofuels and bio-based products development, and biofuels development analysis.

The announcement follows the first biofuel demonstration flight by a US carrier, Continental Airlines in January, as the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI) plans for the certification of a 100% biofuel in 2013.

CAAFI founding member the Air Transport Association of America (ATA) is pleased with the funding.

"We are thrilled that the Obama administration has worked quickly to secure this funding for alternative energy," ATA president and CEO James May says in a statement. "This commitment to the research and development of advanced renewable fuels will allow for commercial-scale demonstration projects and other important activities that will move us closer to commercially viable, environmentally friendly alternative jet fuel. ATA and its member airlines look forward to working with the federal government to further promote the rapid development of these exciting new fuel sources."

Award amounts will be between $1 million and $5 million with project periods up to four years, subject to annual appropriations.

The deadline for pre-applications is 6 March. A minimum recipient cost-share of at least 20% of total project cost for research and development projects and 50% of total project cost for demonstration projects is required.

"These grants will help support the development of a sustainable domestic biofuels industry by broadening the nation's energy sources as well as improving the efficiency of renewable fuels," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says in a statement.

The act, also known as the Farm Bill, also more than doubled funding for the multi agency Biomass Research and Development Initiative. Partner agencies in that project include the Departments of Energy and Agriculture.