DOE funds bioenergy projects at 4 universities

By Erin Voegele | June 27, 2014

The U.S. Department of Energy recently awarded $100 million to Energy Frontier Research Centers with the goal of accelerating scientific breakthroughs needed by build the 21st-century energy economy. Several of EFRC awards will benefit bioenergy research.

According to information released the DOE, the awards are the second round of funding for EFRCs. Research supported by the initiative is expected to enable fundamental advances in energy production, storage and use.

We are mobilizing some of our most talented scientists to join forces and pursue the discoveries and breakthroughs that will lay the foundation for our nation’s energy future,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “The funding we’re announcing today will help fuel scientific and technological innovation.”

A total of 32 projects have been selected to receive funding. Winning projects were selected from a pool of more than 200 proposals. Awards range from $2 million to $4 million per year per center for up to four fiscal years, subject to a progress review in year two.

Projects related to bioenergy include:

University of Delaware—The EFRC objective is to understand catalytic process that will enable the viable, economic operation of biorefineries with lignocellulosic biomass feedstocks converted to a range of fuels and chemicals.

Purdue University—The EFRC objective is to use chemical catalysis and fast pyrolysis to transform the main components of non-food lignocellulsoc biomass directly to liquid hydrocarbons and other high-value chemicals.

Montana State University—The EFRC objective is to investigate the mechanisms and structural basis controlling electron transfer in model enzymes to develop modular biochemical conversions for the production of hydrocarbon and hydrogen biofuels.

The Pennsylvania State University—The EFRC objective is to develop a detailed nano- to meso-scale understanding of plant cell wall structure and its mechanism of assembly to provide a basis for improved methods of converting biomass into fuels.