SunGrant Initiative Research Programs

Woody crop harvesting
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Joint SunGrant Initiaitve and U.S. Department of Transportation research program
carbon fiber materials
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Joint SunGrant Initiaitve and U.S. Department of Energy research program
switchgrass bales in field with mountain backdrop
SGI/USDA Program
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Joint SunGrant Initiaitve and U.S. Department of Agriculture research program

A University-Federal Partnership

The federal agencies are tasked with addressing issues of national concern, but the development of bio-based energy and bioproducts requires an in-depth knowledge of each region’s biogeographic conditions and local resources. Partnering with the Sun Grant Initiative provides the federal agencies with access to the regional and local expertise of the land-grant university research and outreach networks. Through this university-federal agency partnership, national priorities for bioenergy and bioproduct research and development are addressed at the regional and site-specific levels where the challenges can really be resolved.

The Sun Grant Initiative works with each federal agency to help address their respective missions and priorities in the development of bioenergy and bioproducts. In its collaboration with federal partners, the Sun Grant Initiative addresses the complete bioenergy production chain, building from its unique ability to address biomass feedstock development at the regional level, to developing new technologies to support the logistics of preparing and moving feedstocks, to supporting the development of new conversion technologies.

The Sun Grant Initiative coordinates and conducts a wide variety of research related to biomass and bioenergy. Working both on a national and regional level, the Sun Grant Centers are charged with coordinating regional competitive grant programs, a national feedstock development effort, and other important research endeavors.

The Department of Energy (DOE) collaborates with the Sun Grant Initiative to focus on the early assessment of bioenergy feedstock options and the initial testing of feedstock production potentials, as well as the logistics of preparing these feedstocks for conversion. Working with the U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Office of Biomass Programs, the Sun Grant Initiative has launched the Regional Feedstock Partnership Program. The Initiative is working to develop and implement a Regional Biomass Partnership to address barriers associated with the development of a sustainable and predictable supply of biomass feedstocks. This work involves literature reviews, data collection, and implementation of field trials.

Working with the Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Sun Grant Initiative is looking at how to ramp up the production of biomass feedstock production in ways that are sustainable and that do not compete with food production. The Industrial Ecology Research Program includes the development of life-cycle analyses for these systems is an important part of this process.

Building on these efforts with feedstocks and logistics, the Sun Grant Initiative has teamed up with the Department of Transportation (DOT) to support the development of renewable bio-based transportation fuels. The Regional Competitive Grants Program is funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Research and Innovative Technology Administration. Each of the five SGI Centers managed its own regional competitive grants program, to best meet the challenges of bioenergy and biomass research and education needs within their respective regions. Priorities for the grant programs relate to renewable transportation fuel development included: biofuel feedstock development; biofuels conversion processes; biofuel system analysis; economics, marketing and policy; and, environmental impacts.