Cellulosic Biomass Target of Technology MOU

Iowa State University, ConocoPhillips, and the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have signed a memorandum of understanding to identify promising cellulosic biomass conversion technologies over the near, mid- and long-term.

The collaboration will bring three independently established programs together to help identify the most efficient and cost-effective methods for making liquid transportation fuels from plants.

Transportation fuels primarily come from petroleum, corn grain, or food crops. The collaboration between will develop conversion technologies that use cellulosic materials such as corn stalks, stems, leaves, other non-food agricultural residues, hardy grasses and fast-growing trees as feedstocks for future transportation fuels. The processes that will be examined in this collaboration include gasification, pyrolysis and fermentation.

"ConocoPhillips is committed to the development of technologies that will convert sustainable non-food feedstocks into transportation fuels that will be critical to the nation's energy security," said Stephen Brand, ConocoPhillips senior vice president, Technology. "We are hopeful that this collaboration will expand the knowledge base and speed the development of these environmental technologies."

"The thermochemical and biochemical conversion of cellulosic biomass into liquid fuels has great promise to be a clean and renewable source of energy that doesn't compete with our food supply," said Robert C. Brown, the Iowa Farm Bureau director of the Bioeconomy Institute at Iowa State. "This research collaboration brings together the complementary strengths of a major energy company, a national energy laboratory and a land-grant university to advance these technologies and move them closer to the marketplace."

The collaboration could lead to projects that could provide publicly available, peer-reviewed papers and models. Each party is providing its own time and resources and the collaboration is expected to produce an initial report by January 2009.

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