By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.
On July 17, 2017, the U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry announced that $40 million in Department of Energy (DOE) awards will be used to establish four DOE Bioenergy Research Centers (BRC) to be led by a DOE National Laboratory or top university. Each BRC will focus on laying the scientific groundwork for a new biobased economy by providing scientific breakthroughs for a new generation of sustainable, cost-effective bioproducts and bioenergy. The following BRCs were selected based on an open competition with external peer review:
- The Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, led by the University of Wisconsin-Madison in partnership with Michigan State University;
- The Center for Bioenergy Innovation, led by DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory;
- The Joint BioEnergy Institute, led by DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; and
- The Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation, led by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
While the $40 million in funding will be used to establish the centers in 2018, an additional five years of funding is anticipated. The current funding represents a follow-on phase to the original DOE BRC program, which consisted of three BRCs. The new phase will build and expand on the accomplishments of the original BRC breakthroughs and incorporate an additional BRC.