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USDA and DoE grant $47m in R&D funding

The 5 May 2011 saw the US Department of Energy (DoE) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) expose a new $47 million (€32.7 million) grant programme.

The new R&D grants, which are part of the Obama Administration's aim to address the rising costs of fuel, will support the generation of energy from biomass.

The funding will help finance a total of eight projects dedicated to the production of biofuels, bioenergy and other bio-based products from biomass-derived sources.

'Permanently reducing our dependence on foreign oil and getting a handle on out of control gas prices will require our brightest scientists, our smartest companies and strategic investments in research,' says Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. 'The project that we are announcing will spur innovation in bioenergy by development renewable resources that produce energy more efficiently and do so in a sustainable way.

'Advances made through this research will help boost rural economies by developing and testing new processing facilities and profitable, energy-rich crops that US farmers and foresters will grow,' he adds.

'The projects selected today will help produce affordable, renewable biofuel right here in the US to power our cars and trucks,' explains Energy Secretary Steven Chu. 'President Obama set a bold national goal to reduce America's oil imports by one-third in a little more than a decade. By developing and commercialising advanced biofuels, we will create new economic opportunities for rural communities, provide consumers with new options for their vehicles and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

In addition to limiting the nation's reliance on fossil fuels, the additional biofuel produced through these eight projects is expected to be 50% less greenhouse gas emitting that its fossil-based alternatives.

The projects are funded through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative. The USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the DoE's Biomass Program are providing the funding.

Each of the eight R&D platforms chosen were done so through a competitive selection method. Beneficiaries must come up with at least 20% in matching funds for R&D projects, in addition to a further 50% in matching funds for demonstration-scale developments.