Navigation Links
UGA gets $2.5 million in grants to study plants to make biofuels
Date:8/7/2008

University of Georgia researchers were recently awarded two grants totaling $2.5 million to help find better ways to produce biofuels from switchgrass and sunflowers.

UGA was one of eight universities to receive grants from a program jointly funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Energy. The program aims to accelerate research in biomass genomics and further the use of cellulosic plant material for bioenergy and biofuels.

"Developing cost-effective means of producing cellulosic biofuels on a national scale poses major scientific challenges," said Raymond Orbach, a DOE undersecretary. "These grants will help in developing the type of transformational breakthroughs needed in basic science to make this happen.

"The USDA is committed to fostering a sustainable domestic biofuels industry at home in rural America," said Gale Buchanan, a USDA undersecretary. "These grants will broaden the sources of energy from many crops as well as improve the efficiency and options among renewable fuels."

The UGA grants were awarded to scientists in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

Steven Knapp, CAES professor and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar, Jeff Dean and Joe Nairn, UGA researchers, Mark Davis, DOE researcher, and Laura Marek, USDA researcher, received $1.2 million to study the genomics of sunflower.

"Certain wild species of sunflower produce woody stems and high biomass yields, often reaching heights of 18 to 21 feet," Knapp said. "Our grant focuses on understanding genetic mechanisms underlying wood production and biomass accumulation in sunflower."

In addition, Knapp is working with Mark Davis at the DOE National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado to study the biofuel properties of sunflower.

"They will be providing us with state-of-the-art chemical measurements which are needed to identify genetic factors affecting wood formation and cellulosic biomass accumulation," Knapp said.

Jeffrey Bennetzen, the Norman and Doris Giles/Georgia Research Alliance professor of molecular genetics in Franklin College, received the second grant for $1.295 million. It will fund a cooperative project with Katrien Devos, a CAES professor of crop and soil science and plant biology. They hope to develop genetic and genomic tools to study foxtail millet, a close relative of switchgrass.

Switchgrass is an excellent source of biomass for producing ethanol. Unlike corn, which is used now to make most U.S. ethanol, switchgrass is a perennial that grows on poor soil with little water, fertilizer or pesticides.

"Ethanol from switchgrass is a very different story from ethanol from maize grain," Bennetzen said. "Ethanol from maize grain requires large inputs and produces no net carbon capture to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Switchgrass captures carbon dioxide very effectively and will not lead to increased food costs because it does not take acreage away from food production."

But switchgrass has limitations, he said. Researchers need to find more efficient ways to convert lignocellulosethe material that makes up wood, leaves, stemsinto ethanol.

Learning more about foxtail millet, he said, will help. It's easier to study than switchgrass.

"Once the foxtail millet genome is sequenced, we will be able to quickly find the genes involved in making lignocellulose in foxtail millet, and this will make them easy to find in switchgrass as well," Bennetzen said. "We can then study these genes and find ways to improve this performance so that switchgrass is easier to convert to ethanol."

Improving this process is part of another project at UGA called the BioEnergy Science Center.

"For the average Georgian, the outcome of the research in this project will be less expensive liquid fuels, less dependence on foreign oil, lower food costs and less release of carbon dioxide into the environment," Bennetzen said. "We won't see these outcomes in the next year or two, but there is every reason to believe that they will come into effect over the next five to 10 years."


'/>"/>

Contact: Faith Peppers
pepper@uga.edu
770-640-4840
University of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. LSUHSCs Lazartigues awarded $1.2 million grant
2. Caltech scientists awarded $20 million to Power the Planet
3. UGA researchers win $9.2 million stem cell grant from NIH
4. DOE and USDA announce more than $10 million in bioenergy plant feedstock research
5. Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine researchers receive $10.8 million
6. Michael J. Fox Foundation Funds $1.1 Million for Cutting-edge Approaches to Parkinsons Disease
7. Cow power could generate electricity for millions
8. $2 million computer will help unravel major medical ailments
9. NIH awards more than $33 million to fund state-of-the-art research equipment
10. Glenn Foundation for Medical Research commits $5 million to study aging
11. Gift of $100 million to transform energy and environment research at Princeton
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/9/2016)... -- Elevay is currently known as the ... high net worth professionals seeking travel for work   ... there is still no substitute for a face-to-face meeting. ... deal with a firm handshake. This is why wealthy ... citizenship via investment programs like those offered by the ...
(Date:4/26/2016)... DUBLIN , April 27, 2016 ... of the  "Global Multi-modal Biometrics Market 2016-2020"  report ... ) , The analysts forecast ... a CAGR of 15.49% during the period 2016-2020.  ... a number of sectors such as the healthcare, ...
(Date:4/13/2016)... April 13, 2016  IMPOWER physicians supporting Medicaid patients ... a new clinical standard in telehealth thanks to a ... the higi platform, IMPOWER patients can routinely track key ... body mass index, and, when they opt in, share ... visit to a local retail location at no cost. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/20/2016)... ... ... The leading Regenerative Veterinary Medicine Company, VetStem Biopharma ., is proud ... of their own patients with the VetStem Cell Therapy. Each of these veterinarians has ... patients. , The veterinarians are Dr Ross Rich former owner of Cave Creek ...
(Date:5/19/2016)... ... ... Anton Paar USA, located in Ashland, Virginia is pleased to announce that construction ... a third office building to the current facilities. , Growth is nothing new. ... with office space adjacent to the previous main building. Through remodels and new construction, ...
(Date:5/19/2016)... DIEGO , May 19, 2016 ... (OTC PINK: RGBP) and (OTC PINK: RGBPP) announced today ... creating the first cord blood based cancer immunotherapeutic ... provisional patent application, Regen described a generation of ... was potentiated by gene silencing.  The product in ...
(Date:5/18/2016)... , May 18, 2016 The Biotech ... does not mean that there are no opportunities ahead. Today, ... Inc. (NASDAQ: THLD ), Seattle Genetics Inc. (NASDAQ: ... ), and Ophthotech Corp. (NASDAQ: OPHT ). Sign ... at: http://www.activewallst.com/ Threshold Pharmaceuticals ...
Breaking Biology Technology: