Bioenergy

DOE Invests $375 M to Three Bioenergy Research Centers

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Samuel W. Bodman today announced that DOE will invest up to $375 million in three new Bioenergy Research Centers to accelerate basic research in the development of cellulosic ethanol and other biofuels.

The Department’s three Bioenergy Research Centers will include the DOE BioEnergy Science Center led by the DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee; the DOE Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center will be led by the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin, in close collaboration with Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan; and the DOE Joint BioEnergy Institute will be led by DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

“The collaborations of academic, corporate, and national laboratory researchers represented by these centers are truly impressive and I am very encouraged by the potential they hold for advancing America’s energy security,” Secretary Bodman said. The Centers are intended to conduct basic genomics research to reduce gasoline usage 20 percent in ten years, advancing President Bush’s Twenty in Ten Initiative.

A major focus will be on understanding how to reengineer biological processes to develop new, more efficient methods for converting the cellulose in plant material into ethanol or other biofuels that serve as a substitute for gasoline. This research is critical because future biofuels production will require the use of feedstocks more diverse than corn, including cellulosic material like agricultural residues, grasses, poplar trees, inedible plants, and non-edible portions of crops.

The Centers will bring together diverse teams of researchers from 18 of the nation’s leading universities, seven DOE national laboratories, at least one nonprofit organization, and a range of private companies. All three Centers are located in geographically distinct areas and will use different plants both for laboratory research and for improving feedstock crops.