The U.S. Defense Department issued three contracts totaling $16 million for biofuel plants intended to help power fighter jets and destroyers by 2016.
The awards to three closely held firms are part of a drive by the administration of President Barack Obama to boost investment in renewable energy.
The contracts will be matched by more than $17 million in investments by the contractors, Sharon Burke, assistant secretary of defense for operational energy, said today in a telephone interview. The companies will develop plans for refineries capable of supplying at least 150 million gallons of biofuel for less than $4 a gallon, she said.
“We see a national security benefit in global diversification of liquid fuels,” Burke said. The department hopes the effort will “catalyze greater production of these fuels across our economy,” she said.
The companies have proposed making fuel from materials such as animal fats, food-processing waste and oil-seed crops, according to the Pentagon.
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