U Of I Could Host New Bioenergy Research Center

Jul 18, 2017

If Congress approves, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will host a $104 million center for research into new biofuels and bioproducts.

The U.S. Department of Energy is awarding the money over the next five years to help create the university’s new Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation --- CABBI for short.

Plant Biology Professor Evan DeLucia, who will be CABBI’s director, says the Energy Department was attracted to U of I because of the bioenergy work it’s already doing.

“We have a 320-acre energy farm,” DeLucia said. “As far as I know, it’s the only facility like it -- at least in the United States -- where we grow in a very sophisticated way these energy crops. The ecology and environmental impact of these crops is very closely monitored.”  

DeLucia says the Energy Department also liked the university's new Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory. The $32 million facility is nearing completion on the Urbana campus.

DeLucia says the new bioenergy research center could open as soon as December. CABBI will be a joint project of the U of I Institute for Sustainability, Energy and Environment (ISEE), where DeLucia has been director, and the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB).  DeLucia says CABBI will be headquartered at IGB.

CABBI will join three other biotechnology research facilities funded by the U.S. Department of Energy: the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, led by the University of Wisconsin; the Center for Bioenergy Innovation, led by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and the Joint Bioenergy Institute, led by Berkeley National Laboratory.