Wednesday, July 04, 2007

UC Davis joins bioenergy research partnership

UC Davis joins bioenergy research partnership

Sacramento Business Journal - 2:46 PM PDT Tuesday, June 26, 2007

University of California Davis will become a partner in a new $125 million federal bioenergy research center, according to the U.S. Department of Energy on Tuesday.

The federal funds will finance national laboratories at three research universities in Northern California, including UC Davis. The university will receive about $5 million from the program, said Pamela Ronald, the chief Joint BioEnergy Institute researcher at UC Davis.

Researchers will look at how to convert plants into energy for buildings, industry and transportation.

"We will be studying rice as a model grass crop, as well another plant model, Arabidopsis, to understand exactly how the cell wall is constructed," Ronald said in a news release.

Other UC Davis scientists will look for microbes that are adept at degrading the cell walls, critical to the biofuels production process.

Joint BioEnergy Institute partners are UC Davis, University of California Berkeley, Stanford University, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Leadership for the project will come from the Berkeley Lab.

"These centers will provide the transformational science needed for bioenergy breakthroughs to advance President Bush's goal of making cellulosic ethanol cost-competitive with gasoline by 2012, and assist in reducing America's gasoline consumption by 20 percent in 10 years," Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said in a news release.

UC Davis has more than 100 faculty researching energy from biomass.

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