DOE offers fourth cellulosic ethanol research funding opportunity

By Jessica Ebert
The U.S. DOE announced in late August that another round of funding totaling $33.8 million will be made available for cellulosic ethanol research and development.

These grants are intended to support the development and commercialization of enzyme systems for the hydrolysis and saccharification of lignocellulose. This step in cellulosic ethanol production is essential for releasing the sugars trapped in agricultural waste such as corn stover, other grain straws, bagasse, soybean matter and wood residue-sugars that are subsequently fermented to ethanol. However, the enzymatic treatment of cellulosic biomass is costly and time consuming, preventing the cost-competitive production of this biofuel.

The latest DOE funding opportunity is designed to finance the development of effective enzyme systems that are stable and affordable. "These enzyme projects will serve as catalysts to the commercial-scale viability of cellulosic ethanol," said DOE Assistant Secretary Andy Karsner. "Ethanol from new feedstocks will not only give America more efficient fuel options to help transform our transportation sector, but increasing its use will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

The awards will provide funding for projects expected to begin in fiscal year 2008, and continue through fiscal year 2011. Applications were due Oct. 30, and recipients of the awards are expected to be announced in the late spring of 2008.