Biorefineries' stimulus win


Nineteen start-ups have landed the bulk of federal stimulus funding earmarked for industrial biofuel and biomass programs. The US Department of Energy (DOE) in December announced $564 million in funding towards the building and operating of facilities that convert nextgeneration feedstocks such as switchgrass and wood chips into fuels and products. Grants range from $2.5 million to $81.1 million each (Table 1), which dwarf funds allocated to related areas such as plant genomics research. Small-scale or pilot facilities will receive up to $25 million, demonstration scale $50 million, and one company, Bluefire Ethanol in Irvine, California, more than $81.1 million to build a commercial plant. Amyris Biotechnologies, for example, will add its $25 million to the $165 million investment money it has accrued over the last 7 years. The Emeryville, California–based company will use the stimulus grant to expand its pilot facility, explore feedstocks for making renewable hydrocarbons and scale-up production of both fuel and biobased chemicals, says Kinkead Reiling, cofounder. But the money is not intended to cover all biorefinery building costs—the DOE expects grant winners collectively to match prize funds with at least $700 million in nonfederal investment. “[The grants] can boost investor confidence in those projects and allow companies to attract the full amount of the funding needed to get the project done,” says Paul Winters, a spokesperson for the Biotechnology Industry Organization in Washington, DC. Adds Reiling, “It’s an excellent shot in the arm for the industry, but compared to the size of the problem [energy crisis], it’s small.” The stimulus bill, known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, was passed in February 2009. Emily Waltz

DOI: 10.1038/nbt0210-114c

Cite this paper

@article{Waltz2010BiorefineriesSW, title={Biorefineries' stimulus win}, author={Emily Waltz}, journal={Nature Biotechnology}, year={2010}, volume={28}, pages={114-115} }