To the tune of $250 million, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Samuel W. Bodman announced on Aug. 2 that the DOE will establish and operate two new Bioenergy Research Centers to accelerate basic research on the development of cellulosic ethanol and other biofuels.
"This is an important step toward our goal of replacing 30% of transportation fuels with biofuels by 2030," Secretary Bodman said.
The centers' mission will be to conduct systems biology research on microbes and plants, with the goal of harnessing nature's mechanisms for producing energy from sunlight. A major focus will be on understanding how to reengineer biological processes for more efficient conversion of plant fiber, or cellulose, into ethanol.
Four billion gallons of ethanol were produced this year, mainly from corn. The Energy Policy Act of 1992 requires that by 2012, at least 7.5 billion gallons per year of renewable fuel be blended into the nation's fuel supply. To meet these goals, future biofuels production will require the use of more diverse feedstocks including cellulosic material such as agricultural residues, grasses and other inedible plants.
Private firms and national laboratories are among organizations that are eligible to compete for awards to establish and operate a center. The centers are expected to begin work in 2008 and will be fully operational by 2009.
Additional details on the funding opportunity and the centers' objectives are available at: http://www.doegenomestolife.org/centers