Area Development

The department of Energy is creating three bioenergy research centers to investigate new ways of turning plants into fuel. The centers will be located in Oak Ridge, Tenn.; Madison, Wisc.; and Berkeley, Calif. Numerous universities, national laboratories, and private companies will be included in the effort.

According to the DOE's Undersecretary for Science Raymond L. Orbach, the bioenergy centers will try to find naturally occurring microbes that can break down lignin in plants and trees in order to access the cellulose inside. It is the cellulose that is converted into ethanol or other liquid fuels like butanol and biodiesel.