SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — University researchers in South Dakota and North Dakota have been awarded $6 million to help steer industry from fossil-fuel-based chemicals to low-cost renewable building blocks.

The Argus Leader reports that the three-year grant brings together scientists from South Dakota State University, South Dakota School of Mines, North Dakota State University and the University of North Dakota.

The joint venture is called Dakota Bioprocessing Consortium, or DakotaBioCon.

The scientists will look into whether they can turn the molecular building blocks of grass, trees and other organic material into detergents, plastics and other items found at the supermarket.

South Dakota EPSCoR director Jim Rice says the researchers are looking at switchgrass, agricultural waste and urban waste as potential sources that could replace petroleum.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.