Energy Department Renews Funding for Bioenergy Research Centers
April 10, 2013
The Energy Department announced on April 4 that it would fund its three Bioenergy Research Centers for an additional five-year period, subject to continued congressional appropriations. The three centers were established by the Department's Office of Science in 2007 as an innovative program to accelerate fundamental research breakthroughs toward the development of advanced next-generation biofuels. The centers include the BioEnergy Research Center, led by the Department's Oak Ridge National Laboratory; the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, led by the University of Wisconsin-Madison in partnership with Michigan State University; and the Joint BioEnergy Institute, led by the Department's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Each center is designed to be a large, integrated, multidisciplinary research effort, funded at the rate of $25 million per year, and they have consistently received high marks from outside reviewers for both their scientific productivity and the effective management and integration of their research efforts.
In their first five years of operation, the Bioenergy Research Centers have produced more than 1,100 peer-reviewed publications and more than 400 inventions, as recorded in invention disclosures or patent applications. Among the breakthroughs are new approaches for engineering non-food crops for biofuel production; reengineering of microbes to produce advanced biofuels such as "green" gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel precursors from biomass; and the development of methods to grow non-food biofuel crops on marginal lands so as not to compete with food production. In the next five years, emphasis will be on bringing new methods and discoveries to maturity, developing new lines of research, and accelerating the transformation of scientific breakthroughs into new technologies that can transition to the marketplace. See the Energy Department press release, and for more information on the centers, visit the Genomic Science Program website.