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Global Bioenergy Industry News

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Friday, January 14, 2011
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Feedstocks Symposium Showcases Research

US - On Wednesday, university researchers and bioenergy industry leaders shared new data with Bioenergy Feedstocks Symposium participants at the University of Illinois campus.

Seminar topics on the final day of the symposium ranged from biomass crop genetics and breeding to big-picture views of bioenergy crops. The following speakers presented:

Evan Delucia, Professor, University of Illinois and Energy Biosciences Institute, presented on the ecological sustainability of biofuel crops and the climate services of ecosystems. He discussed how the change in land use to bioenergy crops relates to carbon loss in the soil and the impact this will have greenhouse gas emissions.

Heather Youngs, Bioenergy Analyst, University of California, Berkeley, Energy Bioscience Institute, gave participants a high level view of developing scenarios for bioenergy feedstocks, looking at drivers and constraints for policy makers, industry and farmer/land owners.

Anna Hale, Research Geneticist, USDA-ARS, discussed the sugarcane breeding program that she oversees at the USDA facility in Louisiana. She reviewed the process, timeline, successes and challenges of crossing commercial sugarcane with its wild relatives. She also talked to the group about energy cane.

Erik Sacks, Assistant Professor, University of Illinois and Energy Biosciences Institute, discussed breeding programs for miscanthus, prairie cordgrass, big blue stem, switchgrass, perennial sorghum, miscanes and energy cane. He also reviewed key traits - like yield, late flowering, winter hardiness and seed shattering - that the team want to breed into bioenergy crops.

Toshihiko Yamada, Professor, Hokkaido University in Japan, discussed genetic resources and genetic improvements of miscanthus spp. He also explained how miscanthus is currently grown in Japan and its many uses there.

Charles Abbas, Director of Yeast and Renewable Research, Archer Daniels Midland Company, shared information regarding feedstock inconsistency and bioprocess considerations for biomass feedstocks. He explained progress that is being made with corn stover harvesting, transportation and storage, which will lead to an easier way to process high quality stover at a low cost.

Mike Edgerton, Technology Lead for Corn Ethanol and Quality Traits, Monsanto, reviewed results of a grower survey that Monsanto conducted that asked questions related to corn stover. He also discussed corn stover research that Monsanto, ADM and John Deere are collaborating together on.

Steve Long, Gutgsell University Endowed Professor and Deputy Director of Energy Biosciences Institute, shared a look back to 2002 when he and others started their research with miscanthus and other bioenergy crops and then compared that to where EBI is now and what they've accomplished including multiple large-scale miscanthus trials across the country that include more than 35 species and 1000+ genotypes as well as engaging over 60 faculty to research and projects and a team of recognized experts in feedstock issues.

Paul Carver, CEO, New Energy Farms, talked to the group about the opportunity that miscanthus has to deliver a large-scale, cost-effective feedstock supply. He talked in detail about their three customers - new genetics providers and R&D teams, farmer customers and end users of power - and what needs, opportunities and challenges they face to develop and grow this market.

The overall objective of the conference is to provide researchers, farmers and industry leaders with information about current bioenergy research as well as companies that focus on the use of perennial grasses, forbs and woody plants as potential renewable energy sources and profitable alternative crops.

University of Illinois bioenergy activities are sponsored through the BP Energy Biosciences Institute, the Center for Advanced BioEnergy research and the DOE through the North Central Sun grant program as well as private bioenergy firms.

The Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) is a research and development organization that represents a unique collaboration between the University of California, Berkeley; the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and BP, which will support the Institute with a 10-year, $500-million grant.

Further Reading

- To read about day one presentations, go to our previous news item on this story by clicking here.

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