New resource will help develop biobased economy

August 28, 2007

(KNOXVILLE, Tenn.) - Open, convenient access to information will drive new biomass science and technology out of the computer network and into our garages and homes. Scientists with the federal Sun Grant Initiative believe this, and today they announced the availability of a new collection of materials designed to speed the effort.

Called BioWeb, the project is an Internet library of peer-reviewed papers and information related to bioenergy and bioproducts. Available to the public, the BioWeb is a continually expanding collection of basic and applied scientific knowledge, with some information about production economics and policy thrown in for perspective.

The Sun Grant Initiative involves a network of land grant universities collaborating with the U.S. Department of Energy to reduce America 's dependence on petroleum through development of a biobased economy. The idea is to strengthen American agriculture while simultaneously improving rural economies and developing environmentally friendly manufacturing products and technologies.

Authorized by Congress in 2004, the regional Sun Grant Centers include South Dakota State University, Cornell University, Oregon State University, Oklahoma State University and the University of Tennessee. These regional centers emphasize research, higher education, and Extension programs on renewable energy and biobased industries. The national Sun Grant Association coordinates their efforts.

Terry Nipp, executive director of the Sun Grant Association, says the BioWeb is a major step in advancing biomass science. "Scientists, students, and anyone interested in accurate information about biomass conversion and utilization can access the BioWeb. We expect it to be an invaluable resource to investors and researchers interested in the expanding markets related to biomass production and conversion," said Nipp.

The $400,000 project, which is supported through grants from DOE, DOT and USDA, is a collaborative effort of the five regional Sun Grant Centers. Dr. Kelly Tiller, an agricultural economist with the University of Tennessee, coordinates the project.

"We've been testing the Web site throughout the spring and summer, and we're pleased with the positive feedback we've gotten. Site users should find valuable information collected in a format that is easy to use and interactive," Tiller said.

She emphasized that the information on the BioWeb meets the high standards of academic peer review. "All of the information on the site has been reviewed by a body of scientists well versed in their respective disciplines," Tiller said. "A lot of highly regarded researchers have contributed to the BioWeb - 75 strong and growing - from universities and national laboratories. They are working at a feverish pace to add tremendous volumes of credible information to the site. It's expanding daily."

Project co-director, James Doolittle, a soil scientist at South Dakota State University and Director of the North Central Sun Grant Center, thinks the new resource will have wide appeal among a variety of audiences all interested in this rapidly changing and expanding field. "We look forward to the BioWeb becoming a valuable resource that becomes bookmarked and visited frequently by individuals looking for reliable information on biofuels, bioenergy and bioproducts."
-end-
The BioWeb is available online at http://bioweb.sungrant.org/

University of Tennessee at Knoxville

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