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Energy Department to increase biofuel funding by $10 million

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Janet S. Carter/The Free Press/AP

(Read caption) Corn kernels peer out from the husk on an ear of corn in a corn field off Queen Street in Kinston, N.C., in this August 2012 file photo. Biofuel has a near-constant fight on its hands from several quarters, often over the fuel versus food debate, Ingram writes.

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) has announced it will put up another $10 million in funding towards the expansion of biofuels.

It's the second positive announcement in recent weeks for biofuel advocates, as the Senate's "fiscal cliff" avoidance measures have also seen many biofuel initiatives extended until the end of the year.

The DoE confirms (via Autoblog Green) that five projects in four different states will benefit from the extra investment.

Up to $2.5 million of the extra funding will go to Novozymes, based out of Davis, California. Along with a team of partners, Novozymes seeks to find new sources of enzymes used to break down biomass into usable compounds.

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and Texas AgriLife Research will each be awarded up to $2.4 million. 

Washington-based PNNL looks to increase the number of fuel molecules in a particular type of fungi, and will work with the University of Kansas, and others, to complete the project. AgriLife converts elements of lignocellulosic biomass (from paper, wood residue and more) into biofuel precursors.

California-based Lygos is set to receive up to $1.8 million, and aims to develop efficient, inexpensive methods of converting biomass into useful chemicals.

The remaining $1.2 million is set aside for J. Craig Venture Institute, based in Rockville, Maryland. The project will be looking into new enzyme technologies for the production of biofuel from biomass.

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Many of the projects involve collaborative work from Universities and colleges across the country.

Biofuel has a near-constant fight on its hands from several quarters, often over the fuel versus food debate--but products produced from waste biomass are more promising--and greater research funding can only help.


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