WASHINGTON, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- More than $40 million will go into new research to encourage the development of alternative fuels for automobiles in the U.S. market, the government said.
The White House announced it was making $30 million available for developing technology for the use of natural gas in automobiles and another $14 million to support research and development of biofuels derived from algae.
The natural gas program in part targets technology needed to build fuel tanks for passenger vehicles that can handle the high pressures of natural gas. The funding for algae-based biofuels will help develop technology the White House said could replace as much as 17 percent of the oil imported into the United States for transportation use.
"Through the new programs announced today, we can help revolutionize the way Americans fuel their cars, saving money for families and businesses while building new industries here in the United States," U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement.
Tensions between Iran and countries leery of Tehran's suspected nuclear ambitions helped push oil prices to nine-month highs, sending U.S. retail gasoline prices to more than $3.60 per gallon. Critics of U.S. President Barack Obama blame his energy policies for high gasoline prices.
The United States is a net exporter of gasoline.