PULLMAN, Wash., — An innovative new research
alliance involving Washington State University
could lead to scientific breakthroughs that will allow
oil from crops to replace some petroleum fuels and
lubricants, and petroleum-based chemicals in the
production of many plastics.

The Dow Chemical Company and Dow
AgroSciences LLC has committed more than $10
million to fund research at Michigan State
University, Miami University, Washington State
University and the Department of Energy’s
Brookhaven National Laboratory. The partnership
represents the second largest public/private
consortium ever created for agricultural
biotechnology research.

WSU will receive approximately $2.3 million to
fund its portion of the research. Funds will support
five post doctoral scientists in the WSU Institute of
Biological Chemistry for research aimed at the
creation of new industrial products from agricultural
plants and to improve the nutritional content for
certain plant oils.

Scientists will pool their expertise to improve
specific oils and fatty acid traits of soybeans,
canola, unflower and other crops. The new
technology that will be created may also lead to
cheaper or better-performing oils for human
consumption, such as cooking oils, margarine and
other food products.

If successful, the research would create new
markets for regional crops and provide a boost for
the agricultural economy.

“I am very excited to be helping to launch this new
initiative in oilseed engineering,” said John
Browse, who will direct the work in WSU’s Institute
of Biological Chemistry. “The generous resources
provided by The Dow Chemical Company and
Dow AgroSciences will complement and extend
our current research on the synthesis of vegetable
oils in plants and take this research to a new level
of understanding and practicality.”

“I look forward to the day when we can provide, on
the one hand healthier food oils and on the other
hand alternative, environmentally friendly ways to
produce plastics, resins and other chemical
products that enhance people’s lives.” WSU
researchers have a well established track record in
biotechnology research, said Norman Lewis, IBC
director. “We are pleased that WSU has been
recognized as having the capabilities to be a
major player in this groundbreaking research.”