LSU AgCenter awarded $17M biofuels grant
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded the LSU AgCenter a five-year $17.2 million grant to speed up the process for developing biofuels and biochemicals from sugarcane and sweet sorghum.
The grant is part of a $136 million package the USDA gave to five universities with the overarching goal of helping to generate rural jobs and decrease dependence on foreign oil.
The other grantees are the University of Washington, Washington State University, Iowa State University and the University of Tennessee.
The LSU AgCenter was selected because of its successful track record in biofuels development using sugarcane and in working with the sugarcane industry.
The economics of converting crops into fuel and other products is a major part of the grant, and extensive analyses of all the production scenarios will be conducted by the AgCenter.
Another reason the AgCenter was awarded the grant was the close working relationship established already through the Louisiana Institute for Biofuels and Bioprocessing, which was started in 2009 as a way to bring scientists and industry representatives together to collaborate on projects and seek grants.
Louisiana had more than 400,000 acres in sugarcane in 2010, according to AgCenter figures, for a total value of about $750 million to the Louisiana economy.
About two-thirds of the grant money will be funneled into research and the remaining third into education and extension.
The AgCenter will sponsor training sessions to help businesses learn new technologies for biofuels use and help farmers learn to grow energy crops.