Sandia and Monsanto to Research Bioenergy

Sandia National Laboratories and Monsanto Company announced a three-year research collaboration that is expected to play a role in both organizations’ interests in biology and bioenergy. The arrangement is aimed at aligning Sandia’s capabilities in bioanalytical imaging and analysis with Monsanto’s research in developing new seed-based products for farmers, including corn products that may be able to produce more ethanol per bushel.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. “A strategic relationship with Monsanto makes sense on many levels and will bolster our collective long-term objectives in bioenergy and biofuels,” said Terry Michalske, director of Sandia’s Biological and Energy Sciences Center. He noted that researchers at Sandia’s Combustion Research Facility in California could eventually benefit by gaining experience with agricultural samples that have bioenergy/biofuel applications and uses. The research, which falls under a five-year cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA), is expected to enhance current crop analytical technologies, including corn hybrids that offer more ethanol-output per bushel and soybean varieties that produce more nutritious oils for consumers. “This collaboration provides Monsanto with a new opportunity to further augment our existing crop analytics program, offering our researchers another way to better understand genomic profiles for seed and trait development,” said Pradip Das, Director of Crop Analytics for Monsanto. Ancillary research focusing on the photosynthetic properties of various plants and microbes, for instance, will add to the laboratory’s growing expertise in understanding the conversion of sunlight to sugars, relevant not only to the production of new fuels from biomass but also essential to the global carbon cycle and carbon sequestration.
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