CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The University of Illinois is launching a new bioenergy research center that will be used to generate new fuel products directly from plants.

The new Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation is a collaboration with the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, where it will be housed, and the Institute for Sustainability, Energy and Environment.

Biology professor Evan DeLucia will direct the center. He told The News-Gazette that scientists from the university’s multiple disciplines will partner with 17 institutions on the project, aiming to reduce the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels. Thirty of the 60 researchers involved in the project will be based at the university.

“We’re really hoping to open the door to a whole bio-economy where we’re using plants as factories,” DeLucia said.

Some of the partners include Iowa State, Princeton, Mississippi State, West Virginia and Boston University.

DeLucia said a five-year, $115 million grant from the state Department of Energy will help the center pay for its research. It’s one of largest grants ever received by the university.

“This is a very important grant for the university. This prestigious award builds on our record of multidisciplinary innovation as a campus, and in particular campus excellence in agricultural research,” IGB Director Gene Robinson said.


Information from: The News-Gazette, http://www.news-gazette.com