Biofuels Defined

What Is a Biofuel?
A biofuel is a transportation fuel derived from renewable resources such as plant biomass or municipal wastes that replaces or reduces the quantity of fossil fuel present in the U.S. transportation fuel mix.

The EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard requirement for 2009 calls for 11.1 billion gallons (10.21 percent of U.S. transportation fuels), which includes 0.5 billion gallons of renewable biodiesel, to be used in the United States. Currently, the U.S. biofuel supply relies largely on ethanol produced from Midwest corn. Other biofuels that play a smaller role include sugarcane ethanol imported from Brazil, biodiesel from U.S. soybeans, and ethanol from U.S. sorghum.

Biofuels can be made from cellulosic biomass – plant matter composed primarily of inedible cellulose fibers that form the stems and branches of most plants. Crop residues (such as corn stalks, wheat straw and rice straw), wood waste, and even municipal solid waste are potential sources of cellulosic biomass. Dedicated energy crops, such as switchgrass or fast-growing trees, are also promising cellulose sources because they can be sustainably produced in many regions of the United States.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 categorized biofuels and conventional, advanced, and cellulosic:

The term “conventional biofuel” means renewable fuel that is ethanol derived from corn starch.

“Advanced biofuel” means renewable fuel, other than ethanol derived from corn starch, that has lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions that are at least 50 percent less than baseline lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions.

“Cellulosic biofuel” means renewable fuel derived from any cellulose, hemicellulose, or lignin that is derived from renewable biomass and that has lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions that are at least 60 percent
less than the baseline lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions.

Who Is Producing Cellulosic Biofuel Today?

Selected International Biorefinery Projects
The following projects represent a range of technologies and processes being deployed throughout the world, all defined as cellulosic biofuels.

Company Plant Location Feedstock Technology Capacity (gallons/year)
Abengoa Hugoton, Kan. corn stover, wheat straw, milo (sorghum) stubble, switchgrass, and others thermochemical and biochemical processing 11.4 million
Abengoa York, Neb. corn stover, residual starch enzymatic hydrolysis (Chrysosporium lucknowense), integrated with dry mill corn production 0.47 million (0.02 million from corn stover)
Abengoa Salamanca, Spain wheat straw, cereal steam pretreatment, enzymatic hydrolysis 1.3 million
BioEthanol Japan Osaka, Japan wood construction waste enzymatic hydrolysis, fermentation (Klebsiella oxytoca and E. coli) 0.37 million
BlueFire Ethanol Lancaster, Calif. green waste acid hydrolysis, fermentation 3.1 million
China Resources Alcohol Corporation ZhaoDong City, Heilongjiang Province corn stover steam pretreatment, enzymatic hydrolysis 1.7 million
Iogen Ottawa, Canada wheat, oat and barley straw enzymatic hydrolysis (Trichoderma reesei, Saccharomyces 0.79 million
KL Process Design Upton, Wyo. Ponderosa pine wood chips, waste CO2 pretreatment, enzymatic hydrolysis 1 million
Lignol Vancouver, Canada softwood and hardwood pulping liquor pretreatment, enzymatic hydrolysis 1.3 million
Mascoma Lansing, Mich. wood, forestry residues enzymatic hydrolysis and fermentation (Thermoanaero-bacterium saccharolyticum) 40 million
Poet Emmetsburg, Iowa corn fiber, corn stover enzymatic hydrolysis, integrated with dry mill 30 million
Range Fuels Soperton, Ga. timber and forest residue pyrolysis and catalytic conversion 40 million
Verenium Jennings, La. sugarcane bagasse and specially bred energy cane enzymatic hydrolysis, fermentation (Klebsiella oxytoca and E. coli) 1.4 million
Vivergo (BP, British Sugar, Dupont) Saltend, Hull, England wheat not suitable for human consumption enzymatic hydrolysis, fermentation 110 million

12 Responses

  1. Some very intresting ideas and comments. I came across this page whilst looking for cheaper energy prices [/url]http://cheaperenergy.wordpress.com My bills haven risen by 35% this year and am now facing yet another increase by these greedy energy companies. (Thankfully I only rent so don’t have to worry about a mortgage as well.) Has anyone tried this green and cheap renewable energy? If so, be intrested to know how it worked for you.

  2. […] That leaves biofuels. […]

  3. Great Post. It’s about time people started paying more attention to this topic. We definitely need to change the way everything works, and this is a start.

  4. […] See a map and listing of the current cellulosic biofuel facilities. […]

  5. […] congressional funding, a revised DOE plan to get that money to its target, and other factors – there are 30 commercial-scale, cellulosic biofuel facilities under construction or on the drawing bo… – the journey from seven percent to 25 percent in 16 years is getting a great jump […]

  6. […] funding, a revised DOE plan to get that money to its target, and other factors – there are 30 commercial-scale, cellulosic biofuel facilities under construction or on the drawing bo… – the journey from seven percent to 25 percent in 16 years is getting a great jump […]

  7. I think that out of all of these solutions a combo is going to the best bet. There isn’t one alone that can sustain our use of fuel. Although switchgrass looks pretty promising.

  8. I have my doubts about people fueling their cars with edible stuff like soya or corn. But if they fuel their cars with the sources like waste cooking oil and similar wasted stuff that would be of great advantage to the society. A biodiesel processor can convert used oil into biodiesel without much of an effort. This will save you money definitely. On the other hand this solves the issue of waste cooking oil disposal. So win – win situation for both, you and the environment

  9. it is grate to know that bio gas can also create industry.
    which will help all peoples in country.
    i was also working on this project from last 3 years.
    and i want to set up bio gas as a industry in india can any one help me regarding more information on project. plz inform me on my email nilesh.gole1@gmail.com thanks.

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