Cellulosic Biofuel Research Gets Shot in Arm

More than $10 million is being awarded 10 universities to hasten development of cellulosic bioenergy.

Under a joint Department of Energy and Department of Agriculture program, more than $10 million in grants will be awarded to 10 universities over the next three years to accelerate fundamental research in biomass genomics to further the use of cellulosic plant material for bioenergy and biofuels.

"USDA is committed to fostering a sustainable domestic biofuels industry at home in rural America," Agriculture Undersecretary of Research, Education and Economics Gale Buchanan said. "These grants will broaden the sources of energy from many crops as well as improve the efficiency and options among renewable fuels."

USDA is putting $2 million toward the grants. The DOE's Office of Biological and Environmental Research is providing the other $8.8 million.

"Cellulosic biofuels offer one of the best near- to mid-term alternatives we have, on the energy production side, to reduce reliance and imported oil and cut greenhouse gas emissions, while continuing to meet the nation's transportation energy needs," DOE Undersecretary for Science Raymond Orbach said. "Developing cost-effective means of producing cellulosic biofuels on a national scale poses major scientific challenges. These grants will help in developing the type of transformational breakthroughs needed in basic science to make this happen."

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