U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Samuel W. Bodman announced on Wednesday that DOE will invest up to $385 million for six biorefinery projects over the next four years.
Cellulosic ethanol is a type of ethanol that is produced not from sugars and starches but from biomass including waste from urban, agricultural, and forestry sources. Cellulosic ethanol does not compete with food production and yields up to twice as much as grain crops, according to scientists.
Cellulosic ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 85 percent over gasoline. By contrast corn-based ethanol reduces GHG by 18 to 29 percent.
When fully operational, the biorefineries are expected to produce more than 130 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year. This production will help further President Bush's goal of making cellulosic ethanol cost-competitive with gasoline by 2012 and, along with increased automobile fuel efficiency, reduce America's gasoline consumption by 20 percent in ten years, the DOE reports.
"These biorefineries will play a critical role in helping to bring cellulosic ethanol to market, and teaching us how we can produce it in a more cost effective manner," Secretary Bodman said. "Ultimately, success in producing inexpensive cellulosic ethanol could be a key to eliminating our nation's addiction to oil."
Today's announcement is one part of the Bush Administration's comprehensive plan to support commercialization of scientific breakthroughs on biofuels. Specifically, these projects directly support the goals of President Bush's Twenty in Ten Initiative, which aims to increase the use of renewable and alternative fuels in the transportation sector to the equivalent of 35 billion gallons of ethanol a year by 2017.