Bay Area companies gets $72M in stimulus

Several California biofuels companies are winners of the government’s $600 million advanced biorefinery project stimulus award.

Emeryville-based Amyris Biotechnologies Inc., South San Francisco-based Solazyme Inc. and Lakewood, Colo.-based ZeaChem Inc., whose research and development facility is in Menlo Park, will share $71 million toward pilot plants to demonstrate their technologies.

Amyris will use its $25 million award for a pilot plant that will produce a diesel substitute by fermenting sweet sorghum and other petro-chemical substitutes. Solazyme, will build a pilot in Riverside, Penn. to produce an algae oil that can be transformed into oil-based fuels. And ZeaChem’s $25 million will go toward its pilot plant in Boardman, Oregon where the company plans to produce fuel-grade ethanol from purpose-grown poplar trees. It will also evaluate other feedstocks.

“Advanced biofuels are critical to building a cleaner, more sustainable transportation system in the U.S.” said U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu, in a press release. “These projects will help establish a domestic industry that will create jobs here at home and open new markets across rural America.”

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