The U.S. Department of Energy will spend $250 million to establish and operate two new Bioenergy Research Centers to accelerate basic research on the development of cellulosic ethanol and other biofuels, said Secretary Samuel Bodman.

Universities, national labs, nonprofit organizations, and private firms are eligible to compete for an award to establish and operate a center. Awards, based on evaluation by scientific peer review, will be announced next summer. The centers are expected to begin work in 2008 and will be fully operational by 2009.

The centers’ mission will be to conduct systems biology research on microbes and plants, with a focus on understanding how to reengineer biological processes for more efficient convesion of cellulose into ethanol.

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