2020 Bioenergy Research Centers Program Update
Since 2007, the Genomic Science program within DOE’s Office of Science Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER) has supported the Bioenergy Research Center (BRC) program, whose mission is to break down the barriers to actualizing a domestic bioenergy industry. Toward this end, the BRCs have made significant advances in making this new biobased economy a reality. The BRCs have produced multiple breakthroughs in the form of deepened understanding of sustainable biomass production practices, targeted re-engineering of biomass feedstocks, development of new methods for deconstructing feedstocks, and engineering of microbes for more effective production of a diverse range of biofuels.
More specifically, advances included (1) engineering of lignin composition and deposition to reduce plant cell wall recalcitrance without affecting plant viability and to facilitate lignin valorization; (2) development of effective biomass pretreatments that can be adapted commercially to lower costs; (3) discoveries of novel microbes and enzymatic pathways for more efficient deconstruction of lignocellulosic biomass; (4) research for the refinement of consolidated bioprocessing (i.e., simultaneous breakdown and conversion to biofuels and bioproducts by naturally cellulolytic microbes); (5) metabolic engineering of microbes and plants for the biological production of numerous advanced biofuels, bioproducts, or their immediate precursors; (6) identification of new plant genes and an improved understanding of their role in cell wall biosynthesis; and (7) refinement of technoeconomic and lifecycle analyses.