BP (www.bp.com) committed $500 million in funding over the next 10 years to researching the use of bioscience to produce new and cleaner energy, principally fuels for road transport. According to the company, it will form a dedicated biosciences energy research laboratory attached to a major academic centre in the United States or the United Kingdom.

Lord Browne, BP”s CEO, said in a prepared statement that the company has begun discussions with several universities to identify which could host the biosciences research program, with the aim of launching early research programs by the end of 2007.

The program is expected to focus specifically on three key areas of energy bioscience:

  • Developing new biofuel components and improving the efficiency and flexibility of those currently blended with transport fuels.
  • Devising new technologies to enhance and accelerate the conversion of organic matter to biofuel molecules, with the aim of increasing the proportion of a crop which can be used to produce feedstock.
  • Using modern plant science to develop species that produce a higher yield of energy molecules and can be grown on land not suitable for food production.

Browne said the program would be staffed by scientists drawn both from the host university and other academic institutions, along with a small number of specialists from BP.