CenUSA Story

The CenUSA Story

Watch the video below, CenUSA Legacy to get an overview of our goals, methods, and our accomplishments.


Dependence on foreign oil. Greenhouse gas emissions. Energy security. Interference with food crops. Loss of soil fertility and productivity. These are serious challenges to the nation and to agriculture.

One approach to addressing to these challenges is to produce advanced transportation fuels from perennial energy crops. The question is:

How can midwestern agriculture produce these fuels without further harm to the environment while maintaining food production?

CenUSA was created to find the answer.


Switchgrass photo
students tending sunflowers in a field


In 2011, with the sponsorship of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), a research project named CenUSA began. Based at Iowa State University, CenUSA set out to address these pressing challenges by promoting the development of a midwestern system for producing advanced transportation fuels using perennial grasses grown on land unsuitable or marginal for row crops.

By using native perennial grasses as biofeedstock, the sustainability of existing agricultural systems can be improved through reduced soil erosion, reduced agricultural runoff, and increased carbon sequestration. Research was conducted on perennial grass biofeedstocks and on producers willingness to take on the challenge of these new energy crops, all in the interest of findingif this midwestern resource can help the nation to address its energy and land use challenges.


To accomplish these goals, CenUSA set the following objectives. Click each one to learn more about how each was accomplished.