The University of Delaware received a $12 million grant from the U.S. Dept. of Energy for renewable energy research.

On Monday, Delaware's Congressional Delegation announced the four-year grant, which is intended to accelerate scientific breakthroughs for 21st-century energy needs.

Specifically, the grant will allow researchers at the university's Catalysis Center for Energy Innovation to build upon their work to develop plant biomass into renewable fuels, as well as to develop plant-based chemicals that can replace petroleum-based chemicals in things like clothes, plastic bottles and food packaging.

"CCEI's research has the potential to replace costly enzyme-based processes with more robust and economically-viable solid catalysts," said Dionisios Vlachos, CCEI director. "Expanding the portfolio of biomass-derived chemicals and fuels can have a major impact on the economy and the environment."

UD is one of 32 energy research centers nationwide to share $100 million for energy research. Awards range from $2 million to $4 million per year per center for up to four fiscal years.

"Thanks to this grant, the University of Delaware will continue to play a key leadership role in innovation and energy research," said Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del. "The awarding of this grant reflects the leading-edge activities the university's researchers have conducted."

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del, said that the grant will be "a shot in the arm that enables the center to make even more progress even faster."

"I've heard over and over from Delaware manufacturers that lower energy costs make it easier to compete in the global market," said Congressman John Carney, D-Del. "The University of Delaware's Catalysis Center for Energy Innovation is doing cutting-edge research in this field that could lead to breakthroughs in how we power our homes and businesses."