Eight of Texas A&M Agriculture's bioenergy research projects will receive funding through the Sun Grant Initiative, a national program established to create new solutions for future U.S. energy needs.

Developing sweet sorghum hybrids as a bioenergy feedstock and evaluation of transporting biomass energy crops are part of a group of research programs being led by Texas A&M Agriculture through the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station and Texas Cooperative Extension. The scientists will also collaborate with other land-grant universities.

"The Sun Grant funding will greatly enhance several core research efforts related to bioenergy as we seek science-based solutions to alternative energy for Texas and beyond," said Dr. Elsa Murano, vice chancellor and dean of agriculture and life sciences for The Texas A&M University System. "These grants demonstrate the depth of our bioenergy research programs and our commitment to leveraging agriculture to help solve our country's energy needs."

Texas A&M Agriculture will collaborate on the following research programs as part of the Sun Grant Initiative:

- Evaluating sweet sorghum hybrids as bioenergy feedstock (Dr. Bill Rooney, Texas A&M University Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, College Station; Dr. Juerg Blumenthal, Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, College Station; Dr. Brent Bean, Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, Amarillo);

- Developing designer sorghums to optimize grain for bioethanol conversion (Dr. Dirk Hays, Texas A&M Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, College Station);

- Evaluating the nutritional and feeding value of ethanol by-products from animal production (Dr. Travis Whitney and Dr. Chris Lupton, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, San Angelo; Dr. James Muir and Dr. Barry Lambert, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, Stephenville);

- Breeding and testing new switchgrass cultivars for increased biomass production (Muir);

- Using animal waste in coal-fired plants (Dr. John Sweeten, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, Amarillo);

- Investigating a biotechnology platform for biomass bioconversion (Dr. Paul de Figueiredo, Texas A&M Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, College Station);

- Developing a skid-mounted gasification system for on-site heat, fuel and power production (Dr. Sergio Capareda, Texas A&M Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, College Station); and

- Evaluating the energy and cost advantages of modules for packaging and transporting biomass energy crops (Dr. Stephen Searcy, Texas A&M Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, College Station).

Approximately $2.5 million over the next three years will fund a total of 17 projects as part of the Sun Grant Initiative, which receives funds for the research projects from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The Sun Grant Initiative is also aimed at helping revitalize rural communities by working with land-grant universities and their federal and state laboratory partners on research, education and extension programs.