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US Department of Energy Plans for the Future with Biofuel Projects

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The Department of Energy has awarded $6.1 million to four biofuel-related energy technology projects, not least of which include engineered bioenergy crops and a molecular sieve for biofuel production.

The DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E) awarded funding to 66 different projects, all involving biofuel-related energy. The projects focus on a host of varied technologies, including advanced vehicle design, carbon capture, energy storage, and advanced fuels.

The DOE is actively recruiting researchers from top US universities, corporations, and laboratories in order to find innovative solutions to the biofuel conundrum. In fact, the DOE is hoping that by employing the best and brightest, it will be able to develop innovative technologies that will reduce US dependence on fossil fuels and stabilize the country’s energy future.

The pool for contract awards was sizeable. White papers by the thousands, as well as prototype applications were submitted for consideration. Universities led the way with 47% of the contract awards. The remaining funding went to small and large businesses, national labs, and non-profits.

Some of the DOE’s pet projects and contract awards include Plant Sensory Systems, a company that will develop high-output, low-input energy beet – optimized for biofuel production. The University of Minnesota will develop flexible and thin molecular sieve membranes to improve industrial products and the production of biofuels. These membranes have the potential to reduce energy consumption by 3%. The University of Tennessee will attempt to amplify biofuel production by decreasing the time needed to develop new switchgrass varieties.

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