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Secretary Bodman announces Bay Area-based DOE bioenergy center
A partnership of three DOE national laboratorie—Sandia, Lawrence Berkeley, and Lawrence Livermore—and three research universities in the San Francisco Bay Area has been chosen to host one of three national bioenergy research centers, Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman announced recently.
The center will be funded by DOE through its Biological and Environmental Research Genomics: GTL research program in the Office of Science.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) will lead the new center, which will be known as the DOE Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI). It is expected to receive $125 million in DOE funding over its first five years.
The DOE JBEI's other partners are Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the University of California campuses in Berkeley and Davis, and Stanford University. Plans call for the center to be headquartered in a leased building in the East Bay area, central to all partners. Initial work will take place at the West Berkeley Biocenter in Berkeley.
Research at the institute will focus on biofuels — liquid fuels derived from the solar energy stored in plant biomass. Harnessing even a tiny fraction of the total solar energy available each year could meet most if not all of the nation's annual transportation energy needs.
Scientific studies have consistently ranked biofuels among the top candidates for meeting large-scale energy needs, particularly in the transportation sector. However, the commercial-scale production of clean, efficient, cost-effective bio-fuels will require technology-transforming scientific breakthroughs.
Researchers at the DOE JBEI intend to meet this challenge through the conversion of lignocellulosic biomass into biofuels. Lignocellulose, the most abundant organic material on the planet, is a mix of complex sugars and lignin that gives strength and structure to plant cell walls.
The organization of the center will feature four interdependent science and technology divisions:
In addition to maintaining an Industry Partnership Program, research at the center will be guided by an Industry Advisory Board whose membership will come from key sectors, including feedstocks, enzymes, fuels production, biotechnology, genetics, and chemistry.
Each of the member institutes of the DOE JBEI brings unique capabilities to the partnership. The national laboratory partners operate state-of-the-art scientific instrumentation and research facilities.
The other two DOE Bioenergy Research Centers are the DOE BioEnergy Research Center, led by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and the DOE Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, led by the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisc., in close collaboration with Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich.For more information on DOE JBEI, visit www.jbei.org.
Submitted by DOE's Sandia National Laboratories
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