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USDA, Energy fund bioenergy fuels research projects

Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman and Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced the Departments of Agriculture and Energy have awarded nine grants totaling $5.7 million for research aimed at accelerating the development of alternative fuel resources.

“To be a reliable renewable energy source, farmers and ranchers will need to be able to grow biomass in large quantities,” Johanns said. “This joint research initiative will address our need for alternative energy resources and improve the efficiency with which biomass and plant feedstocks are used to produce renewable fuels such as ethanol.”

The secretaries said USDA’s Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service and DOE’s Office of Biological and Environmental Research awarded the grants, which will be used for research on the use of woody plant tissue, specifically lignocellulosic materials, for bioenergy or biofuels.

The research projects will focus on poplar, alfalfa, sorghum, wheat and other grasses.

This is the first year CSREES and OBER have solicited competitive grants in this joint program. DOE is funding six projects for a total of nearly $3.9 million. USDA granted more than $1.8 million to fund three projects. Initial funding will support research projects for up to three years.

Awards have been given to:

-- Purdue University, Ind., $1.4 million.

-- The Noble Foundation, Okla., $800,000.

-- Texas A&M University, Texas, $800,000.

-- USDA-Agricultural Research Service, University of Wisconsin, $333,000.

-- Carnegie Institute of Washington, $359,100.

-- Brookhaven National Laboratory, NY, $300,000.

-- North Carolina State University, $700,000.

-- Kansas State University, $700,000.

-- University of Georgia, $445,000.

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