Energy Department Creates Three Bioenergy Research Centers
WASHINGTON, D.C. --- U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman last week announced that the department will invest up to $375 million in three new bioenergy research centers that will be located in Oak Ridge, Tenn.; Madison, Wis.; and near Berkeley, Calif. The centers will develop cellulosic ethanol and other biofuels. The department plans to fund the centers for the first five years of operation (fiscal years 2008-2013). "These centers will provide the transformational science needed for bioenergy breakthroughs to advance President Bush's goal of making cellulosic ethanol cost-competitive with gasoline by 2012, and assist in reducing America's gasoline consumption by 20 percent in 10 years," Bodman said. "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."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.