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CEC Approves $11 Million for Biofuel and Natural Gas Projects

On Wednesday, the California Energy Commission approved, among other items, $11 million for projects to convert feedstock and waste into biofuels and about $900,000 for natural gas innovations. Biofuels projects are funded through the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP), which supports technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on petroleum-based fuels. The recipients include:

Aemetis, Cupertino – $3 million to convert grain sorghum feedstock into 9 million gallons of low-carbon transportation ethanol fuel and to evaluate the potential for developing in-state supplies of grain sorghum as a feedstock that will continue to reduce the carbon intensity of fuel production.

UrbanX Renewables Group, Long Beach – $5 million to construct a biorefinery in Southgate capable of producing at least 7.5 million gallons of renewable diesel fuel annually.

City of Napa – $3 million to modify its materials diversion facility allowing it to convert 25,000 tons of organic waste annually into 328,000 DGE of renewable natural gas (RNG) and to install an RNG refueling station to supply its fleet of waste and recycling trucks.

Natural gas projects were funded by the Public Interest Energy Research Program (PIER), which provides funding for public interest energy research, development and demonstration projects. The recipients whose work impacts the NGV industry include:

Quantitative BioSciences, San Diego – $150,000 to demonstrate a process that cleans biogas from wastewater treatment by passing it through oval “raceway” ponds that continuously circulate algae and water and leave purified biomethane that can be compressed and used as a transportation fuel.

Otherlab, San Francisco – $145,000 to determine the feasibility of using spiral tubes made of braided fiber composite to create a low-profile gas tank that can free up cargo space and increase the driving range of CNG vehicles.

Ascend Energy Systems, Shingle Springs – $146,000 to determine the feasibility of using a newly developed small solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) that can utilize natural gas directly to generate electricity in an electric all-terrain vehicle. The new technology will increase efficiency compared to current natural gas vehicles and decrease total emissions. It will also serve as a model for using SOFCs in larger hybrid on-road vehicles.