Pennsylvania Funds Biofuels Research

Feb 4 2009 | 8:47am ET

Pennsylvania will fund 49 clean energy and biofuel projects in the state. The money will be awarded in the form of grants from two state programs, with the Energy Harvest program awarding $7.2 million and the Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant program awarding $6.5 million.

Governor Edward Rendell said, “These are difficult times for businesses to raise the capital needed to develop new products and processes, even for the renewable energy and biofuels industries that had been among the fastest growing globally just a few months ago, and even though energy prices have subsided recently, we’ve seen how volatile these markets can be and how high energy prices can hurt an economy.”

Process technology research funding will go to three projects. Thar Process Inc, a Pennsylvania company specializing in supercritical fluids, will receive a grant of $588,000 from the state for a demonstration project to produce ethanol without distillation. The project uses pressurized propane to extract ethanol and has the potential to cut production costs by a third. The company is to use the grant to build a pilot-scale facility, work on which is expected to begin in H2 2009.

Center County-based Matson and Associates will receive $120,000 to demonstrate the effectiveness of several catalysts in processing alternative, lower-cost biodiesel feedstocks.

Dauphin County-based Middletown Biofuels will receive $654,845 to demonstrate pretreatment of alternative biodiesel feedstocks using controlled flow cavitation technology. The company says this has the potential to cut production costs and make the firm more competitive with its out-of-state rivals. The project is expected to have a production capacity of almost 4.6MMgy and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 9,950 tons annually.

Grants awarded through the Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant program go to companies producing and marketing alternative fuels, biofuels and related infrastructure, and consumers purchasing hybrid vehicles. The Energy Harvest program promotes awareness and builds markets for cleaner or renewable energy technologies.

Rendell expects the state’s investment in all 49 projects to leverage over $53.1 million in private investment, create 77 jobs, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2.5 million tons.

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