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March 24, 2007

DENVER, CO - Researchers at Colorado State University will play an integral role as the state continues its push for more renewable energy innovation, Gov. Bill Ritter said Monday.

Joined by Democrats Sen. Ken Salazar and Reps. Mark Udall and Ed Perlmutter, Ritter announced the formation of the Colorado Center for Biorefining and Biofuels, dubbed C2B2, at a news conference at the Capitol.

The C2B2 center will conduct world-class research to develop new biofuels and bio refining technologies. It is funded primarily by private sponsors and is the first research center created under the umbrella of the new Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory, which joins CSU, the University of Colorado, Colorado School of Mines and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

The center will fund biomass research with money provided by Conoco Phillips, Chevron, Dow Chemical and Shell Oil along with a handful of smaller companies.

"To have private partners now in this who are from that traditional energy economy and who understand the value of the new energy economy is a very big piece for us," Ritter said. "(Their participation) will exponentially increase the research dollars available to Colorado (research institutions)."

By collaborating on instead of competing for research ventures, the state's largest research institutions will gain research funding that otherwise would not be available and move rapidly to bring new renewable energy technology to the commercial sector, its supporters say.

"By bringing these organizations together, we can have an enormous impact on the use of biomass (technology) in the future of the United States," said Stan Bull, associate director of NREL. "We're going to work together to move those technologies into the marketplace as rapidly and expediently as we can for the benefit of creating new jobs and developing the economies not only in Colorado but nationwide."

As Ritter pushes Colorado further into the renewable energy race, CSU is in a position to play a leading role, said Kenneth Reardon, a professor, associate department head and site director of the Colorado Center for Biofuels and Biorefining.

"CSU has actually been involved in bio technologies and renewable energy research for several decades," Reardon said. "CSU is well-poised to play a big role in this new venture and research."

Almost $9.2 million was awarded to CSU by the U.S. Department of Energy in 2006 largely earmarked for energy technology research. The university has more than 80 faculty from all eight colleges involved in clean energy technology.

Among other emerging technologies, CSU renewable energy research has focused on biofuels, solar energy, greenhouse gas inventory, energy efficiency production in recent years.

"The excitement on CSU's campus right now around biofuel is tremendous," Reardon said. "I think the (C2B2) center will attract many new students who are interested in the technology. I see a lot of research coming from it."

CSU's partnerships with other research institutions will prove to be beneficial as the university moves into the renewable energy sector.

"We are now able to do things that we wouldn't have the same opportunities for working independently," said Wade Troxell, professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Center for Networked Distributed Energy (NetEnergy). "We want to bring these new technologies to market and this is the first step to doing that."

Renewable technology is already in use by the city of Fort Collins, which uses biodiesel technology provided by Colorado-based Blue Sun Biodiesel.

Blue Sun has previously funded CSU research and is one of the private sponsors of C2B2.

"As a company and industry, we need a network of skilled, smart researchers and that is what C2B2 brings to us," said Jeff Probst, Blue Sun president.


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