U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights

Science Magazine Policy Forum Discusses Biofuels Sustainability
Published: October 06, 2008
Posted: January 27, 2009

The October 3, 2008, issue of Science contains a Forum contribution led by Phil Robertson of Michigan State University.  Robertson is the lead sustainability investigator for the DOE Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center and a scientific advisor to the upcoming October 28 DOE/USDA Sustainability workshop.  In the article, Robertson and coauthors describe potentially harmful environmental impacts resulting from fuel uses of grain-based ethanol and suggest ways to reduce them. Production of ethanol and other biofuels from cellulosic biomass appears to have substantial sustainability advantages compared to grain-based ethanol, but the authors caution that an expanded research agenda and careful policy consideration will be required to realize the potential benefits. The authors conclude that "sustainable biofuel production systems could play a highly positive role in mitigating climate change, enhancing environmental quality, and strengthening the global economy, but it will take sound, science-based policy and additional research effort to make this so."

Contact: John Houghton, SC-23.2, (301) 903-8288
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Plant Systems and Feedstocks, Plant-Microbe Interactions
  • Research Area: Sustainable Biofuels and Bioproducts
  • Research Area: DOE Bioenergy Research Centers (BRC)

Division: SC-23.2 Biological Systems Science Division, BER


BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

May 10, 2019
Quantifying Decision Uncertainty in Water Management via a Coupled Agent-Based Model
Considering risk perception can improve the representation of human decision-making processes in age [more...]

May 09, 2019
Projecting Global Urban Area Growth Through 2100 Based on Historical Time Series Data and Future Scenarios
Study provides country-specific urban area growth models and the first dataset on country-level urba [more...]

May 05, 2019
Calibrating Building Energy Demand Models to Refine Long-Term Energy Planning
A new, flexible calibration approach improved model accuracy in capturing year-to-year changes in bu [more...]

May 03, 2019
Calibration and Uncertainty Analysis of Demeter for Better Downscaling of Global Land Use and Land Cover Projections
Researchers improved the Demeter model’s performance by calibrating key parameters and establi [more...]

Apr 22, 2019
Representation of U.S. Warm Temperature Extremes in Global Climate Model Ensembles
Representation of warm temperature events varies considerably among global climate models, which has [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)