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USDA awards three grants to Michigan University for bioenergy research

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded three new research grants to Michigan State University to research the production of bioenergy and bio-based products.

It is hoped the grants will help develop sustainable regional systems and create jobs in the sector.

Already at the university there is a cellulosic ethanol pre-treatment research lab and an AFEX technology pilot plant.

The grants were awarded, following a competitive submission process, because it is thought the developments on the site will help to meet the Energy Independence and Security Act goal of 36 billion gallons a year of biofuels by 2022 in the country.

The funds will be put towards crop protection for sustainable feedstock production systems, enhanced value co-product development and carbon sequestration and sustainable bioenergy production.

In total, the three grants amounted to nearly $3 million (€2.04 million) and the first grant will look at woody biomass feedstock production systems on carbon sequestration in soils and biomass and soil emissions of greenhouse gases to determine the net environmental benefits and long-term sustainability of biomass energy production.

The second grant will be used to investigate three groups of highly mobile, grass-associated pests which can affect bioenergy crops, and the third set of funds will be put towards developing a cost-effective glycerol-based succinate fermentation process to help increase the sustainability of biodiesel production.