University of Nebraska researchers will lead a major research effort to improve sorghum as a new source for ethanol.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Harvey Perlman made the announcement.
“Please to announce today that the U.S. Department of Energy has awarded a $13.5 million grant to a partnership of nine U.S. institutions, led by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to improve sorghum as a sustainable source of biofuels production,” Perlman told an audience gathered at the Beadle Center Atrium on the Lincoln campus.
The Department of Energy has awarded the five-year grant to fund a comprehensive approach to better understand how plants and microbes interact to determine what sorghum varieties grow best with less water and nitrogen.
UNL leads a team of scientists at Danforth Plant Science Center, Washington State University, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Boyce Thompson Institute, Clemson University, Iowa State University, Colorado State University, and the DOE-Joint Genome Institute.
Most ethanol is made from corn. Sorghum holds promise to create more biomass for cellulosic ethanol. Sorghum also can grow on marginal land. Cellulosic ethanol also doesn’t compete with food crops. The research seeks to increase plant biomass and to increase the efficient use of water and nutrients.
UNL Center for Biotechnology Director Daniel Schachtman, professor of agronomy and horticulture, is the project leader.
Schachtman says sorghum grown for biofuels could fit well into Nebraska agriculture.
“There is sorghum grown in the state and there is a small industry here right now for sorghum that this energy sorghum work could quickly plug into,” according to Schachman.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]