Collaboration between the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Agriculture on a Biomass Research and Development (BR&D) Initiative is directed under various statutory authorities, primarily the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (FCEA) and the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The technical areas the BR&D Initiative is legislatively directed to address are:
- Feedstock development
- Biofuel and bio-based products development
- Biofuel development analysis.
Although BR&D Initiative funds are not approved by Congress every year, the years in which they are see at least 15% of the available money going to each of the three technical areas, described below.
Research, development, and demonstration activities regarding feedstocks and feedstock logistics (including the harvest, handling, transport, preprocessing, and storage) relevant to the production of raw materials for conversion to biofuels and bio-based products.
Biofuels and Bio-Based Products Development
Research, development, and demonstration activities to support:
- Development of diverse cost-effective technologies for the use of cellulosic biomass in the production of biofuels and/or bio-based products.
- Product diversification through technologies relevant to the production of a range of bio-based products (including chemicals, animal feeds, and cogeneration power) that can potentially increase the feasibility of fuel production in a biorefinery.
Biofuels Development Analysis
- Strategic Guidance: The development of analysis that provides strategic guidance for the application of renewable biomass technologies to improve sustainability and environmental quality, cost effectiveness, security, and rural economic development.
- Energy and Environmental Impact: Development of systematic evaluations of the impact of expanded biofuel production on the environment (including forest land) and on the food supply for humans and animals, including the improvement and development of tools for lifecycle analysis of current and potential biofuels.
- Assessment of Federal Land: Assessments of the potential of federal land resources to increase the production of feedstocks for biofuel and bio-based products, consistent with the integrity of soil and water resources and with other environmental considerations.