The roadmap identifies the research required for overcoming challenges to the large-scale production of cellulosic ethanol to help meet this goal, including maximizing biomass feedstock productivity, developing better processes by which to break down cellulosic materials into sugars, and optimizing the fermentation process to convert sugars to ethanol. Cellulosic ethanol is derived from the fibrous, woody and generally inedible portions of plant matter (biomass).
The focus of the research plan is to use advances in biotechnology -- first developed in the Human Genome Project and continued in the Genomics: GTL program in the Department’s Office of Science -- to jump-start a new fuel industry whose products can be transported, stored and distributed with only modest modifications to the existing infrastructure and can fuel many of today’s vehicles.
The new roadmap was developed during a December 2005 workshop hosted jointly by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research in the Office of Science and the Office of the Biomass Program in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The success of the plan relies heavily on the continuation of the partnership between the two offices established at that workshop.
“Biofuels represent a tremendous opportunity to move our nation toward a reduced dependence on imported oil,” DOE Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Alexander Karsner said. “We fully intend to use all of our resources and talent to support the President’s goal of breaking our addiction to oil, while also enhancing our energy security.”
The report, “Breaking the Biological Barriers to Cellulosic Ethanol: A Joint Research Agenda,” and a fact sheet on the report may be viewed at http://www.doegenomestolife.org/biofuels/.
For more information about the Genomics: GTL program in the Office of Biological and Environmental Research in the Office of Science, see http://www.doegenomestolife.org/. For more information on the Office of the Biomass Program in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, see http://www1.eere.energy.gov/biomass/.