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The Department of Energy says it will provide $23 million in federal funding for five projects aimed at developing more efficient processes for converting the cellulose in biomass material, such as switchgrass and agricultural wastes, to ethanol. The research is intended to support President George W. Bush's goal of making cellulosic ethanol cost competitive with corn-based ethanol by 2012. The Administration hopes the development of cellulosic ethanol, along with increased automobile fuel efficiency, will help reduce the nation's gasoline consumption by 20% relative to the current level over 10 years. Grants for these cost-sharing projects will be awarded to Cargill, $4.4 million; Celunol, $5.3 million; DuPont, $3.7 million; Mascoma, $4.9 million; and Purdue University, $5.0 million. DOE will begin negotiations immediately with the selected organizations to determine final project plans and exact funding levels. Combined with the industry cost share, DOE says more than $37 million could be invested in these five projects.
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