In 2011, the USDA awarded $40 million to the University of Washington to lead the Advanced Hardwood Biofuels Northwest (AHB) consortium in order to develop a system for producing advanced biofuels from hybrid poplar trees.
AHB funding is divided among six Northwest universities and colleges and two prominent industry partners. This award is one of six USDA funded research and development grants awarded in 2011 and 2012, totaling $146 million. The funding supports the development of regional, renewable energy markets that boost rural economies and help decrease America’s dependence on foreign oil.
The funding is awarded through USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Regional Coordinated Agriculture Project (CAP) focused on Sustainable Bioenergy. This grant program seeks to establish regional systems for the sustainable production of bioenergy and bio-based products. Each five-year research and development grant builds public and private partnerships that address needs across regional transportation fuel supply chains. The Sustainable Bioenergy grants complement existing efforts across government, academia, and the private sector.
Federal funding for Sustainable Bioenergy AFRI CAP grants is the result of a national biofuels initiative seeking to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil and strengthen rural America. The biofuels initiative is a product of the 2007 expanded Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) created under the Bush Administration and a directive President Obama issued in March 2011 as part of his Blueprint for A Secure Energy Future. The initiative brings together the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Energy, and Defense, and private sector partners. Federal funding supports biofuels research and the development of manufacturing capabilities that demonstrate advanced technologies to produce infrastructure-compatible, drop-in renewable fuels from America’s abundant biomass resources.