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USDA Awards NCGR $1.1M to Sequence Plants for Biofuel Development

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As part of a five-year, $40 million project to develop petroleum alternatives, the National Center for Genome Resources will sequence plants and trees being considered for use as biomass-based fuel for the aviation industry.

The US Department of Agriculture awarded the $40 million grant to Washington State University, which is part of the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance, a consortium of scientists from universities, government laboratories, research institutes, and private industry.

NCGR is also part of the alliance and is receiving $1.1 million over the next four years to head up the sequencing and analysis for the effort.

The grant will focus on developing new fuel for the aviation industry using wood and wood waste in the Pacific Northwest, and also on developing wood-based co-products to replace petrochemicals used in plastics.

"Successful development of biofuels requires us to understand why some tree varieties are better than others for converting woody biomass into petrochemical replacements," said NCGR's vice president for research Callum Bell in a statement.

Sequencing will help understand the "biochemical features that explain amenability of particular wood products to the pretreatment and bioconversion steps that lead to products that will ultimately burn in jet engines," he added.

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