Millions awarded for renewable energy research

By Kris Bevill | July 08, 2009
Report posted August 6, 2009 at 1:06 p.m. CST

The U.S. DOE recently awarded over $600 million in American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funds for scientific projects aimed at advancing the country's development and use of alternative energy.

"As global energy demand grows, there is an urgent need to reduce our dependence on imported oil and curtail greenhouse gas emissions," U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said. "Meeting the challenge to reduce our dependence on imported oil and curtail greenhouse gas emissions will require significant scientific advances."

Among the projects to receive funding:
  • Pennsylvania State University will receive $21 million for five-year project to examine the physical structure of bio-polymers in plant cell walls to provide a basis for improved methods for converting biomass to fuels.
  • Purdue University has been awarded $20 million for a five-year project focused on interactions between catalysts and plant cell walls to design improved processes for the conversion of biomass to energy, fuels or chemicals.
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory will be provided with $5.4 million for equipment at the DOE BioEnergy Science Center (, which was established to examine recalcitrance - the resistance of cellulosic biomass to enzymatic breakdown into sugars. The center has partnered with several potential cellulosic ethanol producers, including Verenium Corp. and Mascoma Corp., which previously provided $5 million to the center for collaborative research.