The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded a combined $10.6 million to two Iowa biorefineries to test biofuels technologies that would meet military specifications.
The Energy Department announced $6.4 million for BioProcess Algae in Shenandoah, Iowa, and $4.2 million for Frontline Bioenergy LLC in Ames, Iowa, to evaluate how renewable biofuels can be used as alternative fuel for cars, trucks and planes that meet military standards for jet fuel and shipboard diesel.
The Energy Department said the grants, which totaled $18 million and included two biorefineries in California and Washington, are part of efforts to advance biofuels technologies to cut costs, improve performance and identify effective, nonfood feedstocks and processing techniques. Grant recipients are required to match at least 50 percent of the funds.
BioProcess Algae, which is a joint venture involving Omaha-based Green Plains and two other companies, has focused primarily on growing algae from ethanol byproducts — carbon dioxide, heat, warm water — for feed and foods. The Energy Department project is an opportunity to focus on algae’s uses for fuel, said Green Plains President and CEO Todd Becker.
Becker called the project “big for Iowa” and one that gives credibility to the algae project. The algae project is located with the Green Plains ethanol plant in Shenandoah and operated by Green Plains, along with Clarcor, a company that specializes in filtration equipment, and BioProcessH2O LLC, a wastewater purification technology company.
The company’s Grower Harvester bioreactors in Shenandoah have been operating continuously since 2009. Becker said the company has a goal this year of producing a ton of dried, wholesale algae daily.
“We’re going to see how well it performs,” said Becker of the biofuels project, noting that BioProcess Algae was the only algae platform selected. “It doesn’t keep our eye off the ball, which is the food and feed markets.”
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