1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
The objective of this Annex is to establish the Joint US-Sino Center for Biofuel Research under the leadership of the USDA/ARS’ National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR) in conjunction with the Institute of New Energy Technology, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China. Other Academic partners may be invited by the principles and should be approved by both institutions that fit the mission related effort. . This Annex is subject to the terms and conditions of the S & T Agreement and the Protocol. In the event of any conflict between the terms and conditions of the S & T Agreement or the Protocol and this Annex, the S & T Agreement and the Protocol shall govern.
1b. Approach (from AD-416):
Cooperation under this Annex may include, but is not limited to, the following topic areas: • To characterize detoxification dynamics, metabolic profiles, and ethanol production potential of tolerant ethanologenic yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae NRRL Y-50049 and other genetically engineered tolerant yeast strains during ethanol conversion using industrial processing by-products corncobs. • To develop improved fermentation process and conditions for optimized performance of selected tolerant yeast for cost-efficient ethanol production using low cost biomass feedstocks including but not limited to sweet sorghum feedstocks. • To develop enzymatic and microbiological biocatalytists for degradation of biomass and enhanced performance for a low cost biomass-to-ethanol conversion. • To develop high-yield tolerant fermentative strains efficiently utilizing multiple sugars derived from divergent lignocellulosic biomass resources. • To address existing and emerging challenging issues from genomics and genetic engineering to fermentation design, optimization, and pipeline process engineering contributing to a sustainable and cost-competitive biofuels production. • To develop bioenergy crops, including improved germplasm and crop management technologies such as for pest control. To generate broad interest and increased activities, the Parties will, upon mutual consent, involve other interested government agencies and the scientific and business communities of both countries in cooperative programs, trade capacity-building activities, and scientific cooperation and exchanges in implementation of this Annex.
3. Progress Report:
1) On August 24 Under Secretary Catherine Woteki gave a keynote presentation at the Sino-American Advanced Biofuels Conference hosted by MOST and Tsinghua University in Beijing. This event was attended by about 70 Chinese and American scientists working on feedstock production and conversion. She noted the collaborative work between ARS and Chinese partners through this agreement as well as the Science and Technology platforms to be launched at the September 2012 Meeting of the Agricultural Chief Scientists in Mexico. Research collaboration updates include: 2) A Ph.D. Candidate from Tsinghua arrived in NCUAR on June 30, 2012 and is working with Dr. Lewis Liu on goals of the annex. 3) Kevin Holtman and William Orts from ARS, WRRC collaborate with the Alan G. MacDiarmid Center for Renewable Energy, China Three Gorges University, Yichang, China. Orts is a Member of the Executive Advisory Board of the MacDiarmid Center. WRRC collaboration with Three Gorges continued as they jointly developed protocols to convert almond shells and hulls to bioenergy. Research findings showed that almond hulls contain up to 35 % free fermentable sugars that can be readily extracted and also that the shells can be converted to fermentable sugars using inexpensive hot-water pretreatment, as well as more traditional pretreatment protocols. This research finds new applications, beyond cattle feed, for the several million tons of almond hulls/shells generated annually in California, as well as in Asia. They showed that these biomass feedstocks hold more value as bioenergy than as a source of dairy forage. 4) Dominic Wong from ARS, WRRC collaborates with Professor Yang Ruijin of Jiangnan University to develop a series of enzymes for biomass degradation in producing biofuels. Dr. Yang visited WRRC in advance of sending a fully funded Ph.D. student from his laboratory to carry out studies at WRRC starting September 2012.