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USDA invests in bioenergy research and development

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack visited a state-of-the-art bioindustrial facility at Renmatix recently, where he announced $25 million to fund research and development of next-generation renewable energy and high-value biobased products from a variety of biomass sources.

"USDA's continuing investments in research and development are proving a critical piece of President Barack Obama's strategy to spur innovation of clean bioenergy right here at home and reduce our dependence on foreign oil," said Vilsack. "The advances made through this research will help to boost local economies throughout rural America, creating and sustaining good-paying jobs, while moving our nation toward a clean energy economy."

The projects announced today are funded by USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative, established in the 2008 farm bill. The funded research will help increase the availability of alternative renewable fuels and biobased products to diversify the nation's energy resources. The Department of Energy will make additional awards through this program. Each award was made through a competitive selection process.

Grant recipients are required to contribute a minimum of 20 percent matching funds for research and development projects and 50 percent matching funds for demonstration projects. Awardees must pursue projects that integrate science and engineering research in three areas: feedstocks development, biofuels and biobased products development, and biofuels and bioproducts development analysis.

Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan., received funding of $5,078,932. The goal of this project is to make the oilseed crop camelina a cost-effective biofuel and bioproduct feedstock. Camelina production will be incorporated into a cropping system with wheat-based crop rotations in Montana and Wyoming. Once harvested and processed, camelina oil and meal will be chemically converted to a variety of adhesives, coatings and composites. A life cycle analysis from agronomic production to end products will assess the feasibility of a nonfood oilseed as a sustainable resource with minimal negative impact on food crop systems or the environment and will provide needed information for decision-making on camelina production as a replacement for fallow in wheat-based systems.

USDA is working to develop the biofuels industry in every region of the country. In addition to the awards, USDA has previously announced major support for public and private research in renewable energy and products in every major American region, aimed at developing renewable energy markets, generating rural jobs, and decreasing America's dependence on foreign oil. By partnering with industry, the research is enabling private-sector partners to produce advanced ready-to-use liquid transportation and aviation biofuels.

In addition, USDA is helping companies build biorefineries--including the first ever commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol facilities--and supporting farmers, ranchers, and businesses taking risks to pursue new opportunities in biofuels. More than 130 biodiesel and ethanol projects funded by USDA are currently producing almost 3.7 billion gallons of biodiesel and ethanol annually, enough fuel--in equivalence to gasoline--to keep five million vehicles on the road every year.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. For more information, visit www.nifa.usda.gov.

Date: 2/4/2013



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