All revved up over biofuels designation

Wisconsin State Roundup

Published September 1, 2007  | September 2007 issue

In late June, the University of Wisconsin-Madison was one of three centers in the country to be awarded a five-year grant of $125 million from the U.S. Department of Energy for research on biofuels. The federal award brings with it $104 million from the state and private gifts that were pledged as part of the school's application and marketing push for the award.

The award officially creates the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center and is designed to spur breakthroughs in the development of biofuels that are cost-competitive with gasoline. Though the university pulls down some $500 million annually in research funding, the grant accompanying the designation as a biofuels center represents the single largest one ever received.

But you win some and lose some. A few weeks later, UW-Madison failed to make the cut on a bid for a $450 million grant for the creation of a bio-threat laboratory to study various contagions and deadly animal illnesses.

Ronald A. Wirtz