The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded a $1.2 million grant to Clemson University in South Carolina to assess the potential of switchgrass and sweet sorghum as feedstocks to produce ethanol in the southeast. The grant also will fund development of a small-scale biofuel processing plant at Clemson University’s Restoration Institute in North Charleston.
The South Carolina Bioenergy Research Collaborative has been formed to demonstrate the economic feasibility of using plants, such as switchgrass, trees and sorghum, to make ethanol. The collaborative includes scientists at Clemson, the Savannah River National Laboratory, South Carolina State University and industry incubator SC Bio, as well as industrial partners who are committed to building a pilot plant in the state.
At the same time, a group of Clemson and USDA-Agriculture Research Service scientists is investigating switchgrass production systems in South Carolina, including soil and crop management, new variety development and measuring environmental impacts.