U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the selection of 19 integrated biorefinery projects to receive up to $564 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 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.

The projects selected will produce advanced biofuels, biopower, and bioproducts using biomass feedstocks at the pilot, demonstration, and full commercial scale. The projects selected are part of the ongoing effort to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, spur the creation of the domestic bio-industry and provide new jobs in many rural areas of the country.

"Advanced biofuels are critical to building a cleaner, more sustainable transportation system in the U.S." said Secretary Chu. "These projects will help establish a domestic industry that will create jobs here at home and open new markets across rural America."

Joining Chu, Vilsack noted that USDA Rural Development has selected San Diego-based Sapphire Energy to receive a non-ARRA loan guarantee for up to $54.5 million through the Biorefinery 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.

"The development of renewable energy is a critical component of our efforts to rebuild and revitalize rural America," said Secretary Vilsack.

These investments will help close the gap between the production from the small number of biorefineries currently in operation and the aggressive Renewable Fuel Standard goals for cellulosic and advanced biofuels.

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Source: USDA