A Sustained Effort
New crops produce biofuels,
but are they sustainable?
Established in 2007, Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Bioenergy Science Center (BESC)...
Bioenergy: Chances and LimitsLast Updated on 2012-07-26 10:38:28
This report from the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina has come to the conclusion that in quantitative terms, bioenergy plays a minor role in the transition to renewable, sustainable energy sources in Germany at the present time and probably into the future.
Bioenergy – Chances and Limits
The Leopoldina’s statement “Bioenergy – Chances and Limits” [Bioenergie: Möglichkeiten und Grenzen] provides a comprehensive analysis of the use of bioenergy. It was compiled by a working group of more than 20 expert scientists established in 2010 and outlines under which conditions the utilization of bioenergy is appropriate.
In recent years Germany has seen a steady rise in the number of energy crops being cultivated for the production of biofuels and biogas. Because bioenergy is so versatile and easy to store, the German... More »
Biomass conversion into fuelsLast Updated on 2011-12-13 00:00:00
Biomass, a source of renewable energy, is organic biological material such as wood, wood waste, municipal solid waste, straw, sugar cane, algae, and many other byproducts derived from agricultural and forestry production as well as other sources. Since biomass derives from plants generated by solar energy in the photosynthesis process it can also be defined as the biological material on Earth that has stored solar energy in the chemical bonds of the organic material.
The fossil fuels (coal, petroleum crude oil and natural gas) are currently thought to have been formed from prehistoric, ancient biomass buried deeply underground over millions of years of geological time. Therefore, they are not considered to be renewable sources of energy.
Production of fuels and other products from biomass
Biomass fuel for electric power production
The direct... More »
Cookstoves ResearchLast Updated on 2011-05-13 00:00:00
Main Image: Improved cookstove in village of Santa Cruz de Lanchi, installed through Peru’s national cookstove program -- the chimney, pot skirt, and a small opening that only allows the tips of the fuel to burn are some of the features that make these “cocinas mejoradas” more efficient and cleaner burning than open fires. Photo credit: Ranyee Chiang / AAAS Fellow hosted by U.S. Department of Energy.
Department of Energy Planning Cookstoves Research
Biomass Technical Meeting Summary Released
This article was written by Paul Bryan* of the U.S. Department of Energy.
Cookstoves may seem like a strange fit for the Department of Energy, an agency with a history of supporting high-tech innovations in science and technology -- especially for clean, renewable energy. However, despite the small size of these cooking... More »
Biomass Feedstocks for Biopower in the United StatesLast Updated on 2011-04-08 00:00:00
Biopower—a form of renewable energy—is the generation of electric power from biomass feedstocks. Biopower, which comprised about 1% of electricity generation in the United States in 2008, may reduce greenhouse gas emissions, provide energy security, and promote economic development. A large range of feedstocks can be used, from woody and herbaceous biomass to agricultural residues. Each feedstock has technical and economic advantages and challenges compared to fossil fuels.
Note: This article was derived from the Congressional Research Service Report R41440 by Kelsi Bracmort, January 20, 2011
Unlike wind or solar energy, a biopower plant is considered to be a baseload power source because some biomass feedstocks can be used for continuous power production. However, ensuring a sustainable supply of biomass feedstocks is a major challenge.... More »
Changing Plant Characteristics to Make BiofuelsLast Updated on 2011-02-09 00:00:00
A Predictable Change
A new technique can change a
plant's characteristics to make biofuels.
A core objective of Oak Ridge National Laboratory's BioEnergy Science Center is to find ways to wring more energy out of the sugars stored in plants. In addition to developing better enzymes, improved microbes and more effective catalysts, Gerald Tuskan's team of plant biologists is exploring ways to generate more energy from biomass by "persuading" plants to store more sugar and then developing new methods of extracting these sugars.
Most of the sugar found in biomass is stored in plant cell walls as cellulose and hemicellulose. The biggest roadblock to extracting sugar from these cell wall polymers has been the difficulty of using biochemical tools to break down the walls. Tuskan, a scientist in ORNL's BioSciences Division, is working with a dozen Oak... More »
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