UT Approves $40 Million Plan to Build Biofuel Refinery

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The University of Tennessee Board of Trustees has approved a $40 million plan to build a pilot biofuel refinery near Vonore.

It's part of a larger effort to create new markets for farmers while weaning drivers away from petroleum fuels.

UT's partner in the project is Mascoma Corporation, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Mascoma is a cellulosic (sel-yoo-LOH-sik) biofuels researcher. Cellulosic fuels come from wood chips, switchgrass and other nonfood sources.

Those are harder to process, so the partnership will work with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory to find more efficient ways to do it.

An $8 million farmer incentive program is under development to encourage local growing of switchgrass.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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