Chromatin, Inc., a developer of energy-crop feedstock solutions, announced the award of a $5.7-million contract under the PETRO (Plants Engineered To Replace Oil) program of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).

The award will fund a three-year program to develop new varieties of sweet sorghum for use as an energy-rich, low cost feedstock for transportation fuels.

“Building on our success deploying our proprietary technology that can add multiple sets of genes to sorghum, we are able to produce sorghum varieties that meet the specific needs of renewable-energy producers," said Dave Jessen, Chromatin's Chief Technology Officer. "In collaboration with academic and industry experts, this award will accelerate Chromatin’s optimization of sorghum as a feedstock for drop-in biofuels and energy-rich replacements for coal and petroleum.”

Chromatin is working to develop non-food varieties of sorghum that have higher energy content making it ideal for the production of low-cost and renewable transportation fuel, high value chemicals and a high-BTU source of biopower. Sorghum can produce tremendous biomass yields with less water and fewer chemical inputs than major food crops and on land that is not devoted to food production.