Category Archives: Biofuels

Vilsack talks about USDA efforts to further advanced biofuels

Read the full story in Ethanol Producer Magazine.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack testified about the farm bill and the rural economy, during a U.S. House of Representatives Committee hearing. As part of that, he talked about the USDA’s work to create markets for advanced biofuels.

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Posted by on April 14, 2014 in Biofuels


Designed for Deconstruction: trees for easier pulping, papermaking

Read the full post at Smart Planet.

Lignin is a naturally-occurring polymer commonly found in wood. Housed in the cell walls, it keeps plants upright, but it makes wood hard to break down for a number of industrial processes — including biofuel production, pulping, and papermaking. Making lignin that’s easier to degrade means those huge, worldwide processes would generate less waste and require less energy, lower temperatures, and fewer chemicals.
Now, researchers say they’ve designed plant cell walls that fall apart, self-destructing under mild processing conditions. The work could slash the cost and energy needed to turn biomass into fuel.
To get rid of lignin, engineers typically heat biomass to 170 degrees Celsius (that’s over 500 degrees Fahrenheit) for several hours in the presence of alkaline compounds, Science reports. Its structure contains ether bonds that are difficult to degrade chemically; researchers have hoped to introduce weaker ester bonds into the lignin backbone. Previous work has suggested that the key may lie in the natural process of lignin assembly: from a pool of single molecules called monomers into a more complex polymer chain. The process could be engineered to incorporate new monomers that aren’t native to lignin — something new that could increase its degradability.
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Posted by on April 8, 2014 in Biofuels, Biomass, Pulp & paper


Study: Rural economies to benefit from bioenergy

Read the full story in Biomass Magazine.

According to a new paper authored by two University of Missouri professors, rural regions are poised to benefit from bioenergy.

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Posted by on April 1, 2014 in Biofuels, Biomass, Publications


Minn. bills to incentivize biofuel, biochemicals, biomass thermal

Read the full story in Biomass Magazine.

Legislation pending in the Minnesota Legislature aims to create incentives for renewable chemicals, advanced biofuels, and biomass thermal energy.

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Posted by on April 1, 2014 in Biofuels, Biomass, Green chemistry


5 key issues in the fight for better fuel

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Commercial fleet operators, their value chain operators and policymakers can create change by paying attention to these big ideas.

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Posted by on March 19, 2014 in Biofuels, Transportation


Michigan State University advances algae’s viability as a biofuel

Read the full story in Biodiesel Magazine.

Lab success doesn’t always translate to real-world success. A team of Michigan State University scientists, however, has invented a new technology that increases the odds of helping algae-based biofuels cross that gap and come closer to reality.

The current issue of Algal Research showcases the team’s invention—the environmental photobioreactor. The ePBR system is the world’s first standard algae growing platform, one that simulates dynamic natural environments.

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Posted by on March 12, 2014 in Biofuels, Publications


Siting Algae Cultivation Facilities for Biofuel Production in the United States: Trade-Offs between Growth Rate, Site Constructability, Water Availability, and Infrastructure

Erik R. Venteris, Robert C. McBride, Andre M. Coleman, Richard L. Skaggs, and Mark S. Wigmosta (2014). “Siting Algae Cultivation Facilities for Biofuel Production in the United States: Trade-Offs between Growth Rate, Site Constructability, Water Availability, and Infrastructure.” Environmental Science & Technology Article ASAP. DOI: 10.1021/es4045488.

Abstract: Locating sites for new algae cultivation facilities is a complex task. The climate must support high growth rates, and cultivation ponds require appropriate land and water resources, as well as transportation and utility infrastructure. We employ our spatiotemporal Biomass Assessment Tool (BAT) to select promising locations based on the open-pond cultivation of Arthrospira sp. and strains of the order Sphaeropleales. A total of 64 000 sites across the southern United States were evaluated. We progressively applied screening criteria and tracked their impact on the number of potential sites, geographic location, and biomass productivity. Both strains demonstrated maximum productivity along the Gulf of Mexico coast, with the highest values on the Florida peninsula. In contrast, sites meeting all selection criteria for Arthrospira were located along the southern coast of Texas and for Sphaeropleales were located in Louisiana and southern Arkansas. Results were driven mainly by the lack of oil pipeline access in Florida and elevated groundwater salinity in southern Texas. The requirement for low-salinity freshwater (<400 mg L–1) constrained Sphaeropleales locations; siting flexibility is greater for salt-tolerant species like Arthrospira. Combined siting factors can result in significant departures from regions of maximum productivity but are within the expected range of site-specific process improvements.

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Posted by on March 12, 2014 in Biofuels, Publications


Is switchgrass the best option for biofuels?

Read the full post at EnvironmentalResearchWeb.

Biofuels are often seen as a solution for environmentally sound transportation. A new lifecycle analysis study, which for the first time includes albedo change, shows that the choice of crop and its location is critical. In the worst-case scenario, biofuels can produce seven times as much climate warming as fossil fuel, while in the best-case scenarios biofuels can negate half the emissions produced by burning the equivalent amount of crude oil.


Bioenergy Legislative Library

The Bioenergy KDF Legislative Library allows users to search for information about both passed and pending legislation relevant to the production and use of biofuels in the United States. To get started, click on the “Legislators,” “Related Bills,” or “Committees” tabs and browse the database for information about the representatives, groups, and legislation that interest you.

Bioenergy KDF has also developed the Bioenergy Library, which contains hundreds of publications, data sets, and models specifically related to bioenergy production, distribution, delivery, and end use.

Many of the Bioenergy Library publication records include abstracts and links to full-text content, while certain data sets can be added to and visualized on the KDF Map. Users also have the ability to comment on entries and share links with others via email and social networking sites. Registered users can also save library resources in the “My Notebook” section of the KDF.


Projected Impacts of State Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Policies

EPA has released updated draft projections of energy impacts from key state energy efficiency (EE) and renewable energy (RE) policies not captured in the Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook (AEO). These policies include:

  • Energy Efficiency Resource Standards (EERS) and EE funding policies that reduce electricity demand through the use of energy efficient equipment, technologies and practices, and
  • Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) requirements beyond what is assumed in AEO 2013

EPA encourages state representatives and other interested parties to submit comments on these draft projections. EPA will carefully consider all comments received, and will make appropriate changes to our analysis on the basis of your input. Please submit your comments by April 1, 2014.

Background: EPA and many states rely on the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Annual Energy Outlook (AEO) demand forecast for power sector modeling and emissions planning. The AEO forecast includes some EE/RE policies, but does not explicitly account for several key EE/RE policies currently “on the books” in many states.  With this announcement, EPA is providing draft impact projections for these policies.

How These Projections Help States: States may use EPA’s EE/RE projections to quantify the associated emissions reductions, and then include these reductions in their SIP submittals. Jurisdictions not currently preparing a SIP but interested in better understanding the energy and emissions impacts of EE/RE policies may likewise use EPA’s methodology and estimates to identify strategies for staying in attainment with the NAAQS.

Input Requested: EPA is requesting comments on its draft impact projections and supporting documentation, including:

  • Background and Methodology Document - explains EPA’s approach to projecting the impacts of “on the books” EE/RE policies that are not explicitly reflected in the EIA’s AEO 2013 electricity projections.
  • Embedded Methodology Document – provides detail on EPA’s approach to identifying the fraction of total annual energy savings from state EE policies already embedded in AEO 2013.
  • Annual Energy Savings and Generation Estimates – provides EPA’s numeric estimates of the policy impacts not explicitly accounted for in AEO 2013 forecast, as determined by applying the previous two documents to the current EE/RE policy landscape in the United States.

Key Questions: EPA encourages state representatives and other interested parties to submit comment on the draft resources described above. The following questions are provided to help guide your review:

  • Is EPA’s description of EE/RE policies currently “on the books” in your state accurate, and are the energy impact projections reasonable? If not, what changes are needed?
  • Is EPA’s overall approach to projecting energy and peak demand impacts from state EE/RE policies analytically sound and consistent with industry practice? Why or why not?
  • Are there uncertainties, issues, or limitations related to estimating EE/RE impacts that are not identified and addressed in this analysis? If so, what are they?
  • Are the EE/RE projections presented in a clear and understandable way, given that the key audiences include both air and energy regulators? If not, what changes are needed?
  • Do you have suggestions for modifying or improving the ways that EPA makes its impact projections available for download, analysis, and manipulation by the states?

Questions? Contact EPA by email.


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