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Friday, January 18, 2013

ARG, Consortium Get Grant to
Develop Advanced Biofuel

American Refining Group, Inc. (ARG), is part of a consortium that was recently awarded a $6.87 million grant funded by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative with the objective of developing an advanced biofuel.

FarmBio3 comprises ARG, several universities, biomass-feedstock suppliers and the USDA. The group aims to develop an advanced biofuel or a biobased crude oil that can be used as a refinery feedstock in the way petroleum crude oil is currently used. Materials that do not compete with the food supply, such as forest residues, animal manure, switchgrass and other perennial grasses, are collected on-site and converted into a liquid “bio-oil” that can be further processed into industrial chemicals or fuels.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the grant Friday at the Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg. The nearly $7 million grant is part of $25 million in funding for projects like FarmBio3 that are also under way in Ohio, Kansas and Utah.

Harry Halloran Jr., owner of ARG, has pledged $150,000 in in-kind services, including operations support as well as research and development efforts. If researchers can develop an advanced biofuel or bio-based crude oil feedstock, it could eventually be tested at the Bradford refinery.

For their part, ARG personnel are tasked with guiding university researchers to developing the proper catalytic processes to create such a feedstock.

ARG is also part of the Pennsylvania State University’s NewBIO consortium. This association also has the goal of creating an advanced biofuel, but amongst other differences, the biomass is collected and processed on a much larger scale. ARG has no financial obligation to this group, and is instead acting in more of a consulting capacity.

“ARG is excited to participate in these projects because we recognize the value and role that alternative fuels will play in our country’s future,” said Jeannine Schoenecker, ARG president and chief operating officer. “We believe that there is a place for both types of fuel and we look forward to potentially adding these products to our existing product slate.”

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