New collaboration seeks conversion technologies for biofuels production


AMES, Iowa — The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory has reached a Memorandum of Understanding with ConocoPhillips and Iowa State University to identify promising cellulosic biomass conversion technologies over the near, mid- and long term.

The collaboration will bring three independently established programs together to help identify the most efficient and cost-effective methods for making liquid transportation fuels from plants.

Transportation fuels today primarily come from petroleum, corn grain or food crops.


This collaboration will develop conversion technologies that will use cellulosic materials such as corn stalks, stems, leaves, other nonfood agricultural residues, hardy grasses and fast-growing trees as feedstocks for future transportation fuels.

The processes that will be examined in this collaboration include gasification, pyrolysis and fermentation.

“The thermochemical and biochemical conversion of cellulosic biomass into liquid fuels has great promise to be a clean and renewable source of energy that doesn’t compete with our food supply,” said Robert C. Brown, the Iowa Farm Bureau director of the Bioeconomy Institute at Iowa State.


“This research collaboration brings together the complementary strengths of a major energy company, a national energy laboratory and a land-grant university to advance these technologies and move them closer to the marketplace.”

The collaboration could lead to projects that could provide publicly available, peer-reviewed papers and models. Each party is providing its own time and resources and the collaboration is expected to produce an initial report by January 2009.


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