U.S. Department of Energy teams up with private company to foster clean energy access

Recent announcements from the U.S. Department of Energy have focused not only on funding, creating and implementing next-generation energy resources but also increasing access to these technologies. Earlier this week, federal officials announced that it is entering into a partnership with a private company, Johnson Matthey, to develop a new kind of biofuel that does not rely on expensive and time-consuming catalysts to make them viable in modern-day vehicles.

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which is spearheading the project, the five-year initiative will see approximately $7 million invested in the venture. Instead of restricting itself to one type of fuel – jet fuel, for example – the joint teams will be exploring a wide variety of applications, including automobile gasoline and mechanical-grade diesel.

Additionally, the NREL-Johnson Matthey initiative is focusing on the use of "non-food biomass feedstock." This substance consists of number of components, including grasses, unusable trees and human wastes.

"We're delighted to be collaborating with NREL in this exciting field," Andrew Heavers, a senior official for Johnson Matthey, said in a statement. "Combining Johnson Matthey’s understanding of catalysis with NREL's biomass processing capabilities will help accelerate the development of more economic routes to biofuels."

In its press release, the NREL projected that this venture will help the government agency move toward its goal of a commercial-scale biofuel creation process by 2017. The hope, officials say, is that this new energy source will cost roughly $3 when it enters the public market. While this date isn't certain, it's quite possible that everyday drivers will see the benefits of this technology at the pump sometime before the end of the decade.

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