U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker and U.S. Representative Zach Wamp today applauded the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) investment of nearly $30 million to accelerate the start-up of its three new Bioenergy Research Centers located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Madison, Wisconsin; and near Berkeley, California. Each Center will receive $9.97 million, enabling them to immediately begin research activities. The Centers, announced by DOE in June, will accelerate research in the development of cellulosic ethanol and other biofuels and make biofuel production cost competitive on a national scale by 2012. This $30 million investment of end-of-fiscal-year funds comes in addition to the $375 million ($125 million per Center) over five years announced by DOE in June.
“Once again, Oak Ridge National Laboratory is leading the way in developing our nation’s next-generation energy technologies,” Alexander said. “This major investment in Tennessee over five years – that the Energy Department is right to jump start – will aid research and experimental efforts to make biofuels a real, viable option.”
“Development of affordable and efficient fuel alternatives to petroleum is absolutely essential to our country’s long-term economic and national security,” said Corker, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “This additional investment in the new DOE Bioenergy Science Center at Oak Ridge will jump start research to harness the potential of switchgrass and poplar trees as significant sources of alternative fuels. I continue to be tremendously proud of the leading role Tennessee is playing in securing America's energy future.”
“By supplying additional funds this year for the Bioenergy Research Center, DOE will allow ORNL to accelerate its research on poplar and switchgrass as potential energy crops,” said Wamp. “The sooner we advance research in this area, the sooner we will see biofuels commercially viable on a national scale and we can lessen our dependence on foreign oil.”
The DOE ORNL Bioenergy Science Center will focus on improving the biofuel potential of switchgrass and poplar trees. The University of Tennessee will serve as one of the academic partners, providing specialized instrumentation, plant breeding technologies and new microbe discoveries.