Scientists receive $1.1 million for biofuels research


RICHLAND – WSU scientists based in the Tri-Cities and Pullman are getting a combined $1.1 million for biofuels research from the U.S. Department of Energy.
DOE announced $80 million for biofuels projects, split between three consortia. WSU is one of several groups involved in the consortia and will receive funding as part of the two groups co-led by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, which is getting $14 million. For more details, see the DOE press release.
For WSU Tri-Cities, this means $620,000 of research funding as part of the National Advanced Biofuels Consortium. The work will be done by the WSU Center for Bioproducts and Bioenergy team based at the Bioproducts, Sciences and Engineering Laboratory (BSEL) on the Richland campus.
“This is only the start of more great things to come in the BSEL building,” said Birgitte K. Ahring, director of WSU’s Center for Bioproducts and Bioenergy and Battelle Distinguished Professor. “This opportunity lays the groundwork for amazing partnerships nationwide and will help us find new ways to make fuels from non-food plants.”
The BSEL opened in May 2008 on the Richland campus. Construction of the $24.8 million facility was a partnership between WSU and Battelle, which operates PNNL for the U.S. DOE. The building allows the organizations to work together to develop solutions to some of the nation’s largest energy problems, to strengthen opportunities to move technology into industry and to provide students with a hands-on educational experience.
For the Pullman campus, $495,000 from the National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts consortium is for algae research to be conducted in the WSU College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Resource Sciences, under Professor David Kramer with the Institute of Biological Chemistry.
Kramer is a WSU “innovator” whose research focuses on increasing plant productivity and redirecting photosynthetic energy toward new and efficient biochemical pathways in effort to harness bioenergy.
More details on Kramer’s research can be found here.