BP Biofuels and Texas AgriLife Research, part of The Texas A&M University System, have signed a three-year agreement to develop and commercialize cellulosic feedstocks for the production of advanced biofuels. The collaboration will utilize AgriLife Research’s diverse high biomass energy crop breeding program and BP Biofuels’ position as one of the few global energy companies growing commercial-scale biomass crops for liquid fuels.
The research and development project has two integrated components: plant breeding and production agronomics:
Plant breeding efforts will be focused on developing new varieties of pearl-millet napiergrass, kinggrass, energy cane and miscane suitable for cellulosic biofuel feedstock production along the US Gulf Coast.
To expedite the selection of commercially robust feedstocks, elite progeny from the plant breeding program will be advanced for demonstration-scale production at a research farm in Texas. The integration of plant breeding and production agronomics will enable BP Biofuels and AgriLife Research to develop elite genetics and production guidelines for future growers.
Developing new varieties of energy grass is essential to commercializing a cellulosic biofuels industry that will enhance domestic energy security, create jobs for Americans and improve rural economies. Working with Texas AgriLife Research is an important step in the process of bringing clean transport fuels to scale and to market.—Tom Campbell, technology vice president at BP Biofuels
This new relationship between BP Biofuels and AgriLife Research emphasizes both entities’ commitment to make biofuels commercially competitive with more traditional fuels. Through this agreement, AgriLife Research will continue to fulfill its research mission to strengthen agriculture’s position for global renewable energy and it will allow BP Biofuels to further pioneer the cellulosic biofuels market, officials said.
Texas AgriLife Research—the state’s premier research agency in agriculture, natural resources, and the life sciences—is headquartered at Texas A&M University in College Station, but serves the entire state through its on-campus units and regional centers. It consists of its College Station headquarters, 13 research centers reaching from El Paso to Beaumont and Amarillo to Weslaco, and associated research stations.
In 2005, BP made a commitment to spend $8 billion over 10 years on alternative energy. BP Alternative Energy is investing at a faster pace than this and has invested approximately $7 billion, with over $4 billion invested in the US. BP Alternative Energy has a focused biofuels strategy: the production of ethanol from sugarcane in Brazil, developing advanced fuel molecules including biobutanol, and commercializing cellulosic biofuels technology. Its cellulosic biofuels technology will use lignocellulosic biomass from dedicated energy grasses to produce advanced biofuels.