Looking to kick-start the alternative fuel industry in North Carolina, the state’s Biofuels Center is handing out $2.77 million in grants.

Eighteen of 49 applications were picked for funding by the state-funded Its mandate is to help North Carolina produce alternative fuels. The grants represent virtually half the Center’s budget for this year.

“The Midwest has corn and Brazil has sugarcane. North Carolina needs to develop conversion technologies for the types of crops and trees the state has in plenty so that we are able to turn this biomass into viable, advanced biofuels,” said Steven Burke, who is taking over as full-time president of the Biofuels Center. He is leaving an executive position at the N.C. Biotech Center to direct the biofuels effort. He has been acting as interim president.

“This funding puts North Carolina on the path toward reducing its dependency on foreign oil and liquid fuel imports while putting money back into our state’s economy”. Burke said. “Seldom has a state the opportunity to create an entirely new industry sector, but sustained support over time will ensure North Carolina reaches its goal of growing and producing 10 percent of its own liquid fuels by 2017 – or about 600 million gallons”.

The grants were approved by the Biofuels Center board. The center sought applications focused on feedstock.

The recipients:

Growing:

• $171,293 / Energy Canes: Ideal Fuelstocks for NC’s Diverse Energy Needs / North Carolina State University Mountain Horticulture Crops / Mills River
• $108,800 / Algae Downstream Processes Automated for Commercialization / Cape Fear Resource Conservation & Development, Inc. / Wilmington
• $129,133 / Extraction and Refinement of Oils from Biodiesel Feedstocks / Appalachian State University / Boone
• $194,375 / Canola Production, Processing, and Market Development for Biodiesel / North Carolina Solar Center / Raleigh

Production:

• $180,496 / Reducing Natural Resource Impacts Related to Biodiesel Production / Carolina Land & Lakes RC&D, Inc. / Newton
• $200,000 / Optimal NC Energy Crop Gasification Project / The Abell Foundation, Inc. / Durham
• $183,802 / Low Cost Conversion of Industrial Sludges to Ethanol / North Carolina State University / Raleigh
• $150,295 / Fungal Biopulping for Improved Ethanol Production from Low-cost Woody Feedstocks / University of North Carolina – Charlotte / Charlotte
• $184,891 / Biomass Gasification Tar Cracking Catalyst Development for Biofuels Synthesis / RTI International / Research Triangle Park
• $197,055 / Enzymatic Processing of Biodiesel / Chatham County Economic Development Corporation / Pittsboro
• $99,850 / Greater Charlotte Region Biofuel Facility / Centralina Council of Governments / Charlotte
• $198,385 / Biodiesel Pilot Plant Demonstration & Outreach Program / North Carolina Solar Center / Raleigh

Growing and Production:

• $35,415 / Biodiesel Feedstock Research / North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services: Division of Research Stations / Oxford
• $183,468 / Optimizing Cultivation and Conversion Parameters for Efficient Sweet Sorghum Bioethanol / North Carolina State University / Raleigh
• $199,128 / Integrated Low-Cost Torrefaction-Gasification for Production of Biofuels from Forest Resources / North Carolina State University / Raleigh
• $162,438 / Economic Analysis of Pine Biomass Feedstocks for Ethanol Production / North Carolina State University / Raleigh
• $150,000 / Feedstock Processing Station / Catawba County / Newton

Other:

• $49,097 / From Farms to Fuels: Renewable Energy Production / Craven County Schools / New Bern