U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack have announced the selection of 19 integrated biorefinery projects to receive up to $564 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. These dollars are to accelerate the construction and operation of pilot, demonstration, and commercial scale facilities. The projects in 15 states will validate refining technologies and help lay the foundation for full commercial-scale development of a biomass industry in the United States.
One such project, run by San Diego, California based Sapphire Energy, received a loan guarantee for up to $54.5 million through the Biorefiners Assistance program to demonstrate an integrated algal biorefinery process that will cultivate algae in ponds, and will use dewatering and oil extraction technology to produce an intermediate that will then be processed into drop-in green fuels such as jet fuel and diesel. The actual project will be constructed in Columbus, N.M.
Authorized through the 2008 Farm bill, the Biorefinery Assistance Program promotes the development of new and emerging technologies for the production of fuels that are produced from non-corn kernel starch biomass sources. The program provides loan guarantees to develop, construct and retrofit viable commercial-scale biorefineries producing advanced biofuels.