The US Departments of Energy (DOE) and Agriculture (USDA) will invest $12.6 million in research grants to fund 10 projects focusing on genetic breeding programs to improve plant feedstocks for the production of biofuels, biopower, and bio-based products. The investment is part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to accelerate development of new clean energy technologies designed to decrease dependence on foreign oil.
Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz says biofuels and bio-based products “offer the potential of homegrown American resources that can reduce our dependence on imported oil and also cut carbon emissions. This advanced research is helping us to lay the groundwork for biomass as an important part of the low-carbon future.”
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack calls innovative research “a critical link to stimulating rural economies and creating jobs across America. These awards are part of the Obama Administration’s all-of-the-above energy policy. These projects will not only support our efforts to provide a sustainable and domestic energy source for the nation, but also improve the lives of rural residents.”
The research grants are awarded under a joint DOE-USDA program established in 2006 that supports “fundamental investigations of biomass genomics, with the aim of harnessing nonfood plant biomass for the production of fuels such as ethanol or renewable chemical feedstocks.”
Dedicated feedstock crops can grow using poorer quality soil than food crops, making this a critical element in a strategy of sustainable biofuels production that avoids competition with crops grown for food.
The projects are located in California, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Texas, and Virginia. DOE’s Office of Science will provide $10.6 million in funding for eight projects, while USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) will award $2 million to fund two projects.