Changes in store for U.S. biofuel effort

  • 15-Feb-2010 02:42 EST
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Mascoma Corp. produces low-carbon cellulosic ethanol via its proprietary Consolidated Bioprocessing technology.

Business as usual will not be enough if industry is to reach the U.S. production target of 36 billion gal (136 billion L) of biofuel by 2022, according to a recently issued report by the Biofuels Interagency Working Group. The production target was established in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Today, only 12 billion gal (45 billion L) of biofuels are produced annually.

The working group—co-chaired by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the U.S. EPA—notes that although hundreds of biofuel projects have been funded, there has not been an explicit U.S. government management plan for achieving the targets. Also, significant parts of the needed supply chain have received little attention, it says.

Among the working group’s recommendations is establishment of lead-agency responsibility for each supply-chain segment from discovery science to workforce development. Another recommendation is streamlining of strategies that move technology research and development rapidly to the pilot-demonstration phase and to full-scale commercial production facility construction for next-generation technologies.

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