All Biobased and Renewable Products News

April 12, 2013
Department of Energy Developments

Senate Energy And Natural Resources Committee Hears From Energy Pick
On April 9, 2013, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, led by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), held a confirmation hearing on President Obama's nominee to lead the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Ernest Moniz. Moniz began his career in 1973 and since that time has alternated between positions as a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at the U.S. Department of Energy. He faced tough questions on his stated support for an "all of the above" energy policy and natural gas. Moniz is considered very qualified and is expected to be confirmed by the full Senate.

DOE To Fund Next Generation Fuels Research Projects
On April 4, 2013, DOE announced that, subject to appropriations, it would provide $125 million over the next five years to each of its three research centers for the research and development of next generation fuels. Under the proposal, each of DOE's research centers would receive $25 million a year for the next five years to expand on research that they have already completed on engineering biofuel crops and microbes to produce fuels, as well as developing methods to grow biofuels on lands not used for food production. The three research centers are: (1) the BioEnergy Research Center led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory; (2) the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center led by the University of Wisconsin at Madison in partnership with Michigan State University; and (3) the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) led by Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory.

DOE Research Center Successfully Engineers Plants That Promise To Reduce Cellulosic Ethanol Production Cost
In related news, DOE's JBEI recently announced that it successfully engineered a model plant (Arabidopsis) to improve sugar release from enzymatic hydrolysis. This breakthrough holds the promise of reducing the cost to produce cellulosic ethanol made from sugars from the lignin in feedstock plants. Currently, it is very expensive to produce cellulosic ethanol partly due to the high cost of the sugar extraction process.
In 2007, JBEI received five-year funding to research scientific breakthroughs necessary to make cellulosic ethanol cost effective. It would receive an additional five years of funding to enhance this research under DOE's funding proposal announced on April 4, 2013.

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