Bioengineering and Chemical Engineering Professor Jay Keasling has been named Chief Executive Officer of the new Department of Energy Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), a partnership of three national laboratories and three research universities in the San Francisco Bay Area.
One of three bioenergy research centers funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) through its Biological and Environmental Research Genomics:GTL research program, the JBEI is expected to receive $125 million in DOE funding over five years.
The JBEI’s six partners are the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), Sandia National Laboratories (Sandia), the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), the University of California (UC) campuses of Berkeley and Davis, and Stanford University. Plans call for the DOE JBEI to be headquartered in a leased building in the East Bay, central to all partners. Initial work will take place at the West Berkeley Biocenter on Potter Street in Berkeley.
Research at the DOE JBEI will focus on biofuels – liquid fuels derived from the solar energy stored in plant biomass. Harnessing even a tiny fraction of the total solar energy available each year could meet most if not all of the nation’s annual transportation energy needs.
The DOE JBEI researchers will tackle key scientific problems that currently hinder the cost-effective conversion of lignocellulose into biofuels and other important chemicals. They will also develop the tools and infrastructure to accelerate future biofuel research and production efforts, and help transition new technologies into the commercial sector. The goal of the DOE JBEI is to achieve measurable success within the next five years.
“The DOE JBEI will be organized like a biotech startup company, with very focused research objectives, and a structure to enable it to quickly pursue promising scientific and technological developments,” said Keasling. “In addition, the DOE JBEI will seek collaborations with companies that have relevant scientific and market capabilities in energy, agribusiness, and biotechnology.”
Read more at Berkeley Lab