USDA announces $8.7 million BRDI funding opportunity

By Erin Voegele | March 03, 2015

The USDA announced it is now accepting applications for research and education grants through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Biomass Research and Development Initiative. Approximately $8.7 million in grants are expected to be awarded through the program. Concept papers are due March 27, with the deadline for full applications set for July 27.

The BRDI is a joint program through NIFA and the U.S. Department of Energy to develop economically and environmentally sustainable sources of renewable biomass, increase the availability of renewable fuels and biobased production to help replace the need for gasoline and diesel in vehicles, and diversify our energy portfolio.

According to the USDA, applicants seeking BRDI funding must propose projects that integrate science and engineering research in one of three legislatively mandated technical areas, including feedstock development; biofuels and biobased products development; or biofuels development analysis. Applications that address more than one of these three areas will not be reviewed.

A funding announcement published on Grants.gov indicates the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is expected to fund one to six awards, while the USDA’s NIFA is expected to fund three to 14 awards. Each award is expected to range in size from $500,000 to $2 million. NIFA is expected to contribute $5.7 million in total funding, with the EERE contributing up to $3 million. The project periods are expected to range up to 3 years. Eligible applicants include institutions of higher education, national laboratories, federal research agencies, state research agencies, private sector entities, nonprofit organizations or a consortium of two or more of these entities.  

Quad County Corn Processors is one company that was awarded a BRDI grant in the past. According to the USDA, the Galva, Iowa-based ethanol producer is retrofitting an existing corn starch ethanol plant to add value to its byproducts, which will be marketed to the feed markets and the biodiesel industry. Findlay, Ohio-based Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. was also awarded a BRDI grant. The company is seeking to use remaining plant residue from the guayule shrub, which is used in rubber production, for use in biopower and for conversion to jet fuel precursors. In addition, the University of Wisconsin was awarded a grant to support the development of a closed-loop energy system using dairy manure as a source of fiber and fertilizer.

Additional information on the funding opportunity is available on the Grants.gov website under USDA-NIFA-9008-004957