DOE Genomics Research Could Slash Costs of Ethanol and Hydrogen
October 5, 2005
DOE awarded $92 million for genomics research on October 3rd, and also issued a comprehensive plan for a new generation of biology research to help solve national energy and environmental challenges. Microbial and biotechnology research promises solutions to major energy challenges, including the production of ethanol and hydrogen. Microbial enzymes could, for example, be used to improve the manufacture of ethanol from cellulose by replacing the inefficient and expensive processes used today. These enzymes could enable smaller-scale and more cost-effective and energy-efficient distributed processing plants that could make cellulose-based ethanol cost competitive with oil-based gasoline. According to DOE, thousands of microbial species have biochemical processes that are of potential use for this and other energy applications. The DOE plan begins by focusing on key proof-of-principle experiments on complex energy and environmental systems. See the DOE press releases on the award and the comprehensive plan.