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USDA Awards More Than $18 Million in Small Business Research Grants

Ed Loyd, (202) 720-4623
John Snyder, (202) 720-4651

Printable Version

WASHINGTON, Dec. 9, 2005 - Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced today that 131 small businesses have received Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants totaling more than $18.9 million from the USDA. Among the grants are eight that fund research into renewable biofuels, reinforcing USDA's long-term strategy to help farmers and ranchers with high energy costs.

"These grants will help hundreds of small businesses to explore and commercialize innovative ideas, while conducting research on important agricultural issues with significant public benefit," said Johanns. "Investing these funds is a part of our commitment to enhance opportunities for small businesses and strengthen the economy."

The primary objectives of the SBIR program are to stimulate technological innovations in the private sector and to strengthen the role of small businesses in meeting federal research and development needs. The program also fosters and encourages participation in technological innovations by women-owned and socially and economically disadvantaged small business firms.

The Small Business Innovation Research grants that deal with renewable energy total more than $1.2 million are:

  • "Biosolids for Biodiesel," Emerald Ranches, Sunnyside, WA, $295,606. The goal of this Phase II project is to set up a facility that is capable of extracting oil from canola seed and transforming the oil into biodiesel fuel.
  • "A New Process for Biodiesel Production Based on Waste Cooking Oils and Heterogeneous Catalysts," United Environment & Energy, LLC, Orchard Park, NY, $80,000. The overall objective of this Phase I project is to study the feasibility of cost-effective production of high value biodiesel from waste cooking oils.
  • "Improved Quality Soy-Oil Based Biodiesel Fuel," BioplasticPolymers & Composites, LLC, Midland, MI, $296,000. The overall objective of this Phase II project is to produce biodiesel from fats and vegetable oils that has better low temperatures flow properties, is more volatile and is more resistant to thermal breakdown than current biodiesels.
  • Lignin-Based Polymeric Materials from Byproduct of Biomass Conversion,: NaSource Company, Newbury Park, CA, $80,000. The conversion of agricultural biomass to biofuels produces a waste stream of materials that require further conversion to create value-added products and improve the economics of fuel production. The objective of this Phase I project is to chemically modify certain waste stream components to produce lignin-based plastics.
  • "Processing of Poultry Manure for Fuel Gas Production," Advanced Fuel Research, Inc., East Hartford, CT, $296,000. The objective of this Phase II project is to develop the technology for converting poultry manure into combustible gases that can be integrated with various electrical power generation devices and have widespread agricultural use for poultry manure removal, resource recovery and power generation.
  • "Improved Anaerobic Digestion of Dairy Manure for Energy and High-Value Co-Products," Andgar Corporation Ferndale, WA, $80,000. This Phase I project seeks to develop the technology to convert manure produced by dairy cows into biogas and high-quality, value-added fiber.
  • "Camelina sativa: A Multiuse Oil Crop for Biofuel, Omega-3 Cooking Oil, and Protein/Oil Source for Animal Feed," Great Northern Growers Cooperative Sunburst, MT, $80,000. This Phase I project will evaluate a new crop for the Northern Plains states that is suitable for economic conversion into biodiesel, biolubricants and an omega-3 fatty acid-rich cooking oil for human consumption.
  • "High Yield, High Efficiency Bio-Refining," Advanced Materials and Processes, San Marcos, TX, $79,966. The objective of this Phase I project is to develop technology to improve yields in vegetable oil processing by extracting fatty acids from vegetable oils and biodiesel without creating emulsions.

In fiscal year 2005, 131 SBIR grants were awarded in 12 topic areas that support the USDA vision of a healthy and productive nation in harmony with the environment. Companies initially apply for Phase I feasibility studies, which may be followed by Phase II research and development projects. Phase I grants are limited to $80,000 and a duration of eight months, while Phase II grants are limited to $300,000 and a duration of 24 months. Approximately 50 percent of Phase I projects continue onto Phase II.

Descriptions of funded projects can be found online at http://www.csrees.usda.gov/funding/sbir/sbir_abstracts.html

USDA is one of 11 federal agencies required to reserve 2.5 percent of their research and development dollars for small businesses. Since 1983, the USDA SBIR program has awarded over 1,600 research and development grants to American-owned and independently operated for-profit businesses of 500 employees or less.

USDA's SBIR program receives funding from the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES), the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, the Agricultural Research Service, the Economic Research Service, the National Agricultural Statistics Service, the National Resources Conservation Service and the U.S. Forest Service. The awards are administered by CSREES.

CSREES advances knowledge for agriculture, the environment, human health and well-being, and communities by supporting research, education, and extension programs in the Land-Grant University System and other partner organizations. For more information, visit http://www.csrees.usda.gov.