USDA grants Hood College professor $100,000 for biofuels project

FREDERICK, Md. — The United States Department of Agriculture has awarded Hood College biology professor Craig Laufer $100,000 over an 18-month period to fund research and development of cost-effective biofuels.

Successful completion of this project would qualify Laufer’s lab for larger grants for commercialization, according to a news release from Hood.

The research will focus on a new biotechnology idea that could significantly lower the cost of enzymes needed to produce biofuels and bioproducts, making them more cost-competitive with petroleum fuels.

The project will provide hands-on experiential training for master’s-level and undergraduate students at Hood College.

Hood will work with Atlantic Biomass LLC, a Frederick-based biofuel technology company that is focused on the development of affordable, renewable biofuels.

The key aspect of this joint effort has been the discovery and development of a sequential enzyme process that converts plant biomass into fermentation-ready sugars without the use of expensive pretreatments.

The first application of this system is converting energy beets to bio-jet fuel. The technology funded by the USDA grant will help reduce enzyme costs, making biofuels more competitive commercially.