USDA, DOE Fund Genomics Projects For Bioenergy Fuels Research

Officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced on Aug. 9 they have jointly awarded nine grants totaling $5.7 million for biobased fuels research that seeks to accelerate the development of alternative fuel resources.

Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman commented, "These research projects build upon DOE's strategic investments in genomics, to accelerate scientific discovery and promote the development of alternative energy sources vital to America's energy and economic security."

"To be a reliable renewable energy source, farmers and ranchers will need to be able to grow biomass in large quantities," Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said. "This joint research initiative will address our nation's need for alternative energy resources and improve the efficiency with which biomass and plant feedstocks are used to produce renewable fuels such as ethanol."

USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES) and DOE's Office of Biological and Environmental Research (OBER) awarded the grants. CSREES and OBER jointly initiated this fundamental research program to facilitate the use of woody plant tissue, specifically lignocellulosic materials, for bioenergy or biofuels. The research projects will focus on poplar, alfalfa, sorghum, wheat and other grasses.

This is the first year CSREES and OBER have solicited competitive grants in this joint program. DOE is funding six projects for a total of nearly $3.9 million. USDA granted more than $1.8 million to fund three projects. Initial funding will support research projects for up to three years.

Awards have been given to:

  • Purdue University, Ind., $1.4 million
  • The Noble Foundation, Okla., $800,000
  • Texas A&M University, Texas, $800,000
  • USDA-Agricultural Research Service, University of Wisconsin, $333,000
  • Carnegie Institute of Washington, $359,100
  • Brookhaven National Laboratory, NY, $300,000
  • North Carolina State University, $700,000
  • Kansas State University, $700,000
  • University of Georgia, $445,000

CSREES: http://www.csrees.usda.gov

OBER: http://www.sc.doe.gov/Program_Offices/BER.htm

This article originally appeared in the 08/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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