Virent Project Wins Federal Funding

Check out the exciting news for Virent, a Wisconsin CAPCO program company:

Virent Energy Systems Inc. was awarded up to $4 million on Tuesday for a project to accelerate the development of drop-in biofuels as well as bio-based chemicals.

Virent’s was one of three small-scale projects awarded funding by the Department of Energy, the agency announced.

“Producing advanced, drop-in biofuels in the U.S. will reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil and support development of a new industry that will create jobs in rural communities across the country,” said Secretary Steven Chu in a statement. “These investments aim to accelerate the discovery of innovative solutions that could drive down the cost of biofuels production and boost their availability in the marketplace.”

Madison-based Virent will use the funds to demonstrate the effectiveness of its process to convert plant sugars into both a hydrocarbon that can be refined and blended into gasoline and jet fuel – as well as chemicals.

The project will seek to show that Virent’s process is capable of “high yields of drop-in fuels and chemicals” and gain knowledge that could be used toward design of a larger-scale facility, the agency said.

Drop-in biofuels are fuels that can serve as direct replacements or supplements to existing gasoline, diesel, and jet fuels, without any changes to existing fuel distribution networks or engines, and have the potential to significantly reduce U.S. reliance on oil imports.

Randy Cortright, Virent founder and chief technical officer, said the grant will allow Virent to use a variety of nonfood crops as feedstocks and help it refine its process for converting sugars into fuels.

“We will continue to demonstrate our progress in the creation of both drop-in chemicals and fuels simultaneously,” Cortright said.

The announcement comes as the U.S. Navy and the departments of Energy and Agriculture are teaming up to award up to $510 million to companies to build an undisclosed number of bio-refineries around the country.

Virent’s CEO, Lee Edwards, said the firm is among the clean-tech biofuels firms expected to apply to build one of the refineries, for which the Energy Department is requiring at least $510 million in private funds.

Read the original article on JSOnline.