USDA Announces $6 Million In Funding For Bioenergy Feedstock Genomics
On January 19, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced the availability of up to $6 million in funding to support research in plant feedstock genomics for bioenergy. Support is provided in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER) through the Plant Feedstock Genomics for Bioenergy program, which aims to improve the use of biomass and plant feedstocks for the production of fuels or renewable chemical feedstocks. Research projects should focus on overcoming biological barriers to the low-cost, high-quality, scalable, and sustainable production of dedicated bioenergy biomass feedstocks using the tools of genetics and genomics. Eligible applicants, including state agricultural experiment stations, colleges and universities, university research foundations, individuals, non-profit organizations, and for-profit organizations, are encouraged to submit proposals. Applications are due April 20, 2018. More information on the funding opportunity is available on the NIFA website.
NASA Announces Continuation Of Alternative Fuel Study
On January 10, 2018, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced the next phase of its international collaboration to study the impact of biofuels on jet engine performance, emissions, and contrail formation. In February, NASA’s DC-8 Airborne Science Laboratory will sample and analyze gases and particles present in the wake of the German Aerospace Center’s (DLR) Advanced Technology Research Aircraft (ATRA) A320 aircraft as it burns alternative biofuels. Eight joint DC-8/A320 flights are planned to sample three different fuels at a variety of altitudes and airspeeds under contrail forming and non-contrail forming conditions. The objective of the project is to assess the effects of alternative fuels on aircraft engine performance and emissions, particularly regarding the impact of soot from those emissions on the size, concentration, and lifetime of contrail ice particles.
The research is a continuation of NASA’s investigation on the impact of biofuels on jet engine pollution, as previously reported in the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) blog post NASA Confirms Biofuels Reduce Jet Engine Pollution. Compared to previous experiments, NASA will be flying where contrails form and persist, which will provide more opportunities for gathering data, and will be analyzing data using a much more extensive instrument.
European Parliament Votes On REDII
On January 17, 2018, the European Parliament (EP) adopted the revision of the Renewable Energy Directive (REDII), which includes draft measures to raise the share of renewable energy to 35 percent by 2030. Additionally, the lawmakers voted to exclude biofuels produced from palm oil from consideration of European Union (EU) Renewable Energy targets and to cap other crop-based fuels at their current levels. The exclusion of palm oil-derived biofuels would not ban or limit the production of such biofuels in the EU. The EP vote does not represent a final decision, but rather sets the EP position for negotiations with the Council of Ministers and the European Commission (EC).
Brazil Considers Removing Ethanol Tariff
According to Brazil’s Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi, Brazil is considering lifting the 20 percent tariff on ethanol imports from the U.S.. Demand for ethanol in Brazil has increased due to record-high gasoline prices. As indicated in the BRAG blog post Grain, Ethanol Industry Send Letter To U.S. Trade Representative On Brazil Ethanol Tariff, U.S. ethanol producers would welcome the removal of the tariff and renewed access to Brazil, which is the largest destination for U.S. biofuel exports. Minister Maggi indicated that the decision to remove the tariff would depend on the U.S. lifting the ban on fresh beef exports from Brazil. In 2017, the U.S. banned fresh beef from Brazil following a food safety scandal and Brazil imposed a tax on ethanol from the U.S. following an increase in imports. While speaking to reporters on January 16, 2018, Minister Maggi stated that “[t]here is, on the part of the United States, a big demand to withdraw [the ethanol tariff] and we also have this problem with beef. . . . Obviously one thing influences and contaminates the other.” According to Minister Maggi, Brazil has addressed all U.S. requirements regarding the safety of its fresh beef and is awaiting the U.S.’s decision.
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