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May 10, 2007

Purdue partners with Midwest group to expand bioenergy

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University has joined forces with the North Central Bio-economy Consortium (NCBEC) with the goal of making the Midwest as well known for energy production as the Middle East.

The NCBEC partnership includes agriculture officials and researchers and Extension directors from 12 states who will work together to help guide the nation's transition to greater use of bio-based fuels and products.

"We plan to collaborate in research and Extension efforts that draw on the strengths of our individual organizations," said Sonny Ramaswamy, director of Purdue Agriculture Research Programs. "By cooperating, we see the potential to go beyond ethanol to new biopolymers, chemicals and fertilizers that substitute plant resources for petroleum."

Ramaswamy said the Midwest's agriculture industry has the potential to again drive the country's economy, something it hasn't done since before World War II. Shifting our nation's reliance away from oil is an economic, environmental and security issue, he said.

Purdue's strengths in bioenergy development include understanding the fermentation process, agronomic production and plant biology, and analyzing the economics of biofuels. The Indiana State Department of Agriculture and Purdue Extension also are participating in this effort.

In addition to Indiana, NCBEC states include Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. These states have the potential to produce half to two-thirds of the nation's bioenergy crops and crop residues, according to analysis done by organizations such as the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and National Renewable Energy Lab.

The NCBEC consists of directors of the state Departments of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Services and university agricultural experiment stations.

Writer: Beth Forbes, (765) 494-2722, forbes@purdue.edu

Source: Sonny Ramaswamy, (765) 494-8362, sonny@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Beth Forbes, forbes@purdue.edu
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