The University of North Carolina is among the seven universities sharing in $8 million in federal research grants to develop non-food feedstocks that can be used to make bioenergy.

UNC’s award from the U.S. Department of Energy totals $1.5 million. The grants are part of a broader effort by President Obama’s administration to develop domestic renewable energy and advanced biofuels. The grants from the Energy Department as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture are for projects designed to improve trees and grasses that can be grown for biofuel. These improvements could be increasing their yield, quality and ability to adapt to extreme environments. The research will cover switchgrass, poplar and pine, as well as other plants.

The other universities receiving grant funds are: University of Florida; Oregon State University; Colorado State University; University of Georgia; University of Illinois; and Purdue University.