DOE Grant Aims To Address Feedstock Hurdles

Virent Energy Systems Inc. and HCL CleanTech have been awarded a $900,000 grant from BIRD Energy, a program for U.S.-Israel joint renewable energy development funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, the Israeli Ministry of National Infrastructures, and the BIRD Foundation. The grant supports almost half of the $2.1 million total project cost.

The project’s objective is to address the key hurdles limiting the market acceptance of biofuels and bioproducts made from cellulosic feedstocks: price, performance, and infrastructure compatibility. 

The project combines HCL CleanTech’s lignocellulosic conversion technologies that produce cost-effective non-food sugars with Virent’s BioForming technology that converts plant sugars into hydrocarbon molecules like those now refined from petroleum. The process chemistry works at low temperature and atmospheric pressure, resulting in very few degradation products and significantly lower energy and water consumption, according to the companies. T

“Economically converting plentiful cellulosic biomass into renewable, fungible hydrocarbon fuels and products will enable broad market acceptance and is the most realistic alternative to displace petroleum and create a clean energy transportation sector in the coming years,” says Lee Edwards, Virent CEO.

As part of the BIRD project, HCL CleanTech will also provide pine sugars to a leading biopolymer producer for evaluating fermentations into hydrocolloids that historically are produced from cane or corn sugars for use in a broad range of personal care, food and beverage applications.

“We built the demo unit operations at a size that will allow us to scale up directly to a small commercial facility, which we plan to integrate into a paper mill by the end of 2012,” says Bob Jansen, Head of HCL CleanTech Engineering.

To learn more, visit www.virent.com.

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