OSU, ZeaChem land federal funds for bioenergy research
By Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
In one grant-funded project announced this week, ZeaChem and Oregon State University will participate in biofuels research focused on using sugarcane and other tropical grasses in Hawaii.
Oregon State University, ZeaChem Inc. and other partners this week landed just over $7 million in research grants from the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of a federal push for innovation in biomass, bioenergy and other plant-based products.
A total $41 million was awarded 13 projects trained on more efficient biofuels production and ways to improve the feedstocks that alternative fuels are made from.
ZeaChem and Oregon State University will participate in a project funded with a $6 million grant for the development of advanced biofuels made with tropical grasses in Hawaii.
The four-year project, based in Manoa, Hawaii, will work on processes for making bio-based jet and diesel fuel from tropical grasses grown in Hawaii.
The consortium of researchers — including ZeaChem, OSU, Washington State University, Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company, and Hawaii BioEnergy LLC — will be led by the University of Hawaii.
“This grant enables ZeaChem to use its highly efficient biorefining process to meet the energy needs of Hawaii based on locally available, sustainable feedstocks,” said Jim Imbler, president and CEO of ZeaChem, in a press release.
ZeaChem, based in Lakewood, Colo., is operating a 250,000-gallon ethanol plant near Boardman, with plans to also develop a 25-million capacity commercial plant on the same site.
Oregon State University will also get just over $1.1 million in a separate grant to study the gene networks of poplar trees.
Pankaj Jaiswal, a plant scientist at OSU, will lead the research focused on two varieties of poplar trees. The trees, which will be supplied by Portland-based Greenwood Resources, have been shown to thrive in soil that is high in salt and low in water, making them attractive options for land that wouldn't otherwise support food crops.
ZeaChem, OSU and Greenwood Resources last year took part in $80 million in grants awarded by the federal government to support the development of the biofuels industry in the Northwest.
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