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DOE funds Amyris biofuel refinery project

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Logo for Amyris Biotechnologies, Inc., located in Emeryville, CA
Amyris Biotechnologies, Inc., is located in Emeryville, CA

December 09, 2009

U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Nobel laureate and former director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), has announced the selection of two California integrated biorefinery projects to receive more than $45.4 million in Recovery Act funding to accelerate the construction and operation of biofuel pilot scale facilities.

“Advanced biofuels are critical to building a clean, more sustainable transportation system in the U.S.” says Chu. “These projects will help establish a domestic industry that will create jobs here at home and open new markets across rural America.”

One of the projects announced — Amyris Biotechnologies, Inc., located in Emeryville, CA — will produce a diesel substitute through the fermentation of sweet sorghum. The pilot plant will also have the capacity to co-produce lubricants, polymers, and other petro-chemical substitutes. The other project — Logos Technologies, located in Visalia, CA — will convert switchgrass and woody biomass into ethanol using a biochemical conversion process.

Amyris Biotechnologies was founded with technologies developed in the laboratory of Jay Kiesling, Berkeley chemical engineering professor. Amyris co-founders Jack D. Newman, Kinkead Reiling and Neil Renninger all were postdocs in the Keasling lab.

The biofuels and bioproducts produced through these projects will displace petroleum and accelerate the industry’s ability to achieve production targets mandated by the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). These investments will help close the gap between the production from the small number of biorefineries currently in operation and the aggressive Renewable Fuel standards goals for cellulosic and advanced biofuels.

Projects selected today are part of the Department’s ongoing efforts to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, support the creation of the domestic bio-industry and provide new jobs in many rural areas of the country.

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