SunEthanol receives fourth U.S. DOE grant

By Kris Bevill | August 04, 2008
Web exclusive posted August 8, 2008 at 1:17 p.m. CST

Amherst, Mass.-based SunEthanol Inc. was recently awarded a $750,000 grant from the U.S. DOE to continue perfecting its one-step process for converting plant waste to ethanol. This is the fourth DOE grant that SunEthanol has received in the past year.

SunEthanol plans to use the latest round of funding to begin the commercialization work for its Complete Cellulosic Conversion (C3) process. The process is centered on SunEthanol's QMicrobe technology, which it claims can convert a wide array of plant and organic materials directly into ethanol. The technology is based on a microorganism that company co-founder and University of Massachusetts Amherst professor of microbiology Dr. Susan Leschine discovered in soil near a Massachusetts reservoir.

According to SunEthanol, its technology is unique in that it's a one-step process that doesn't require the use of enzymes and can be used on a wide variety of organic feedstocks.

"The Q Microbe has exhibited great versatility in converting a wide variety of non-food, biomass feedstocks to ethanol," Leschine said. "We are pleased that research that began in the microbiology labs at University of Massachusetts Amherst may change the way we fuel our vehicles around the globe."

SunEthanol will continue to collaborate with researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and plans to begin constructing cellulosic ethanol production facilities in 2010.