USDA and DOE Provide $4 Million for Biomass Genomics Research; Seeking 30% Biofuels in Transportation by 2030
The US Departments of Energy and Agriculture (DOE and USDA) announced $4 million for bio-based fuels research that will accelerate the development of alternative fuels. The departments issued a solicitation for research proposals for new plant feedstock genomics research projects.
This is in addition to the $17.5 million in grants for biofuels research and development announced earlier this week. (Earlier post.)
We are seeking to accelerate research breakthroughs that contribute towards making biofuels a cost-effective alternative to fossil fuels, with a goal of replacing 30 percent of transportation fuels with biofuels by 2030. Close and effective cooperation on research between the Departments of Energy and Agriculture will be an important element for the success of this effort.—Dr. Raymond L. Orbach, DOE Under Secretary for Science
The new funding continues a commitment, begun in 2006, to conduct a fundamental research program in biomass genomics, to provide the scientific foundation to facilitate the use of woody plant tissue, specifically lignocellulosic materials, for bioenergy and biofuels.
The agencies’s joint stance is that developing lignocellulosic crops for energy fuels could use less intensive production techniques and poorer quality land, thereby avoiding competition with food production on better quality land.
The program will take advantage of significant advances in breeding, molecular genetics and genomic technologies and build upon the existing knowledge base of plant biology to enable researchers to confidently predict and manipulate plants’ biological function for bioenergy resources.
DOE’s Office of Biological and Environmental Research (OBER) and the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) National Research Initiative began the joint competitive grants program in 2006.
The program focused on fundamental research on plants that will improve biomass characteristics and yield or that will facilitate lignocellulosic degradation. In August 2006, the agencies awarded nine research grants totaling $5.7 million spanning three years. (Earlier post.)