Biobased Fuels Research Gets $5.7 Million Boost

DOE and USDA jointly fund research to address nation's need for alternative energy resources.

Published on: Aug 10, 2006

Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman and Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced that the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Energy have jointly awarded nine grants totaling $5.7 million for biobased fuels research that will accelerate the development of alternative fuel resources.

Bodman comments, "These research projects build upon DOE's strategic investments in genomics, to accelerate scientific discovery and promote the development of alternative energy sources vital to America's energy and economic security."

"To be a reliable renewable energy source, farmers and ranchers will need to be able to grow biomass in large quantities," Johanns states. "This joint research initiative will address our nation's need for alternative energy resources and improve the efficiency with which biomass and plant feedstocks are used to produce renewable fuels such as ethanol."

USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service and DOE's Office of Biological and Environmental Research awarded the grants. CSREES and OBER jointly initiated this fundamental research program to facilitate the use of woody plant tissue, specifically lignocellulosic materials, for bioenergy or biofuels. The research projects will focus on poplar, alfalfa, sorghum, wheat and other grasses.

This is the first year CSREES and OBER have solicited competitive grants in this joint program. DOE is funding six projects for a total of nearly $3.9 million. USDA granted more than $1.8 million to fund three projects. Initial funding will support research projects for up to three years.

Awards have been given to:

  • Purdue University, Ind., $1.4 million.
  • The Noble Foundation, Okla., $800,000.
  • Texas A&M University, Texas, $800,000.
  • USDA-Agricultural Research Service, University of Wisconsin, $333,000.
  • Carnegie Institute of Washington, $359,100.
  • Brookhaven National Laboratory, NY, $300,000.
  • North Carolina State University, $700,000.
  • Kansas State University, $700,000.
  • University of Georgia, $445,000.

Biomass research and development technical advisory committee members named

Johanns and Bodman also announced the appointment of twelve members to serve on the Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory Committee for a term of three years. Committee members assist the Departments of Energy and Agriculture in meeting important national goals of a healthier rural economy and improved national energy security.

The newly appointed members are:

David Anton, Venture Manager, Biofuels, DuPont Corporation, Wilmington, Del.; Lou Honary, Director, ABIL Research Program, University of Northern Iowa, Waverly, Iowa; E. Alan Kennett, President, Gay & Robinson Sugar, Kaumakani, Hawaii; Mark Maher, Executive Director, GM Powertrain Vehicle Integration, Pontiac, Mich.; John McKenna, CEO, Hamilton Clark & Co, McLean, Va.; Ed McClellan, Alston & Bird LLP, Washington, D.C. ; Mitchell Peele, North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation, Raleigh, N.C.; Jeffrey Serfass, President, Technology Transition Corporation, Washington, D.C.; Robert Sharp, Vice President, Mobile Forest Products, Mobile, Ala.; J. Read Smith, Co Chair, Agriculture Energy Work Group, St. Johns, Wash.; Rodney Williamson, Iowa Corn Promotion Board, Johnston, Iowa; Thomas Binder (Reappointed), President of Research, Archer Daniels Midland, Decatur, Ill.

Committee members provide expert advice to the two secretaries on strategic planning; the technical focus and direction of requests for proposals issued under the biomass initiative; procedures for reviewing and evaluating proposals for funding; and encouraging closer collaboration among federal and state agencies, industry and growers.