TUCSON, Ariz.—The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture has given the University of Arizona a five-year grant of up to $15 million to create a new center focusing on the mass production of biofuels and bioproducts in the southwestern U.S.
The center, which will be known as the Sustainable Bioeconomy for Arid Regions Center, will address the nation's needs for biofuels and bioproducts.
It also will strengthen Arizona's bioeconomy and provide training for the next generation of scientists and engineers, according to a University of Arizona press release.
The center will focus on the desert shrub guayule, which long has been a focus of research for its rubber and by-products. Also to be studied is guar, a common food additive known as cluster bean.
Both plants are common in the Southwest.
The center will conduct research into guayule and guar as potential feedstocks not only for biofuels but for rubber, polysaccharide, resin and other bioproducts, the press release said.
About 85 percent of the biomass from guayule and guar readily can be converted into biodiesel, jet fuel and kerosene using existing conversion technologies, it said.
Kimberly Ogden, director of the university's Institute for Energy Solutions and a professor in its College of Engineering, will head the new center.
Peter Waller, associate professor in the university's Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, and Dennis Ray, University Distinguished Professor in the university's School of Plant Sciences, will be among the researchers in the new center.