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More Options for Bioenergy Crops

Colorado State University (CSU)
Synthetic Gene Circuits to Enhance Production of Transgenic Bioenergy Crops
Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$1,576,999
Location: 
Fort Collins, CO
Project Term: 
04/04/2013 to 10/03/2015
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 
Widespread use of petroleum-based fuels for transportation contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and makes the U.S. more dependent on foreign oil. Advanced biofuels are a promising renewable alternative to petroleum-based fuels, but with current technology it is not economically feasible to produce them in large quantities. To make advanced biofuels cost-competitive, new, significantly more efficient ways to produce fuels from sustainable biological sources are needed.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
CSU is developing technology to rapidly introduce novel traits into crops that currently cannot be readily engineered. Presently, a limited number of crops can be engineered, and the processes are not standardized - restricting the agricultural sources for engineered biofuel production. More--and more diverse--biofuel crops could substantially improve the efficiency, time scale, and geographic range of biofuel production. CSU's approach would enable simple and efficient engineering of a broad range of bioenergy crops using synthetic biology tools to standardize their genetic modification.
Potential Impact: 
If successful, CSU's synthetic gene circuits could widen the variety of plants that could be utilized for biofuels production, which would greatly increase the ability to yield high volumes of domestic biofuels.
Security: 
Increased production of domestic biofuels could help the U.S. diversify our fuel production, reducing our dependence on foreign nations for our energy security.
Environment: 
Because plants naturally absorb carbon dioxide as they grow, greenhouse gas emissions from biofuels are less than half that of petroleum fuels. Biological carbon fixation through photosynthesis reverses the combustion process.
Economy: 
Biofuels can be produced domestically, allowing us to keep more dollars at home.
Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Joe Cornelius
Project Contact: 
Prof. June Medford
Release Date: 
11/28/2012