An innovative idea for making advanced biofuels such as jet fuel, diesel and gasoline from regional resources is moving forward with a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

“This process will demonstrate the use of local biomass from our community and our farmers and it will answer questions across the state,” said Diahann Howard, Port of Benton economic development director.

“It will also give more options locally to use waste for energy and not stockpile ag waste, which can create hazardous or unappealing situations,” she said.

The team of Washington State University Tri-Cities, the Port of Benton, Clean-Vantage LLC and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) will conduct the $1.5 million “BioChemCat” pilot project in the Bioproducts, Sciences and Engineering Laboratory (BSEL) at WSU Tri-Cities under the leadership of Birgitte K. Ahring, director of the WSU Center for Bioproducts and Bioenergy and the Battelle Distinguished Professor.

BioChemCat refers to the biorefinery process that makes use of both biochemical and thermochemical processes for making biofuels and biochemicals.

"The concept is feedstock agnostic; it doesn’t really care what kind of biomass you use,” Ahring explained. “It can use all kind of feedstocks - municipal waste, vineyard waste, feedlot manure, woody material, ag waste like corn stalks, straw or corn cobs after the kernels have been removed. It could be implemented all over the world.”

The project is funded with a DOE grant to the Port of Benton of $951,000 plus $549,000 in matching funds. Ahring expects to have the first results by early fall.