6506 Crossing Borders: Government, Academia, and Industry Are Solving Bioenergy Challenges

Friday, February 17, 2012: 1:30 PM
Room 118 (VCC West Building)
J. Richard Hess , Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, ID
Viable biofuels technology pathways must address feedstock production and environmental issues through to the fuel or chemical end products. Considering the complexity and technology diversity of a complete biofuels supply chain, no single entity or technology provider is capable of addressing in depth all aspects of any given pathway; however, all the necessary expertise exists. Bioenergy, developed correctly, has the potential to return diversity to the landscape and improve environmental and economic sustainability of our productive lands. Paradoxically, increased biomass crop diversity reduces the efficiencies of biomass logistics and conversion systems that are typically achieved through product uniformity and supply system scale. Distributed preprocessing systems that condition/transform a wide diversity of raw biomass resources into fewer specification-defined feedstocks (i.e., tradable commodities) are essential to overcome this paradox between sustainable diversity and commodity-scale uniformity. To achieve the vision of a sustainable commodity-scale biomass industry, five areas of development are essential: 1) biomass crops and agronomically viable/sustainable production systems; 2) harvesting and handling systems for a diversity of raw/unstable biomass resources; 3) densification and stabilization systems that transform raw biomass into high-density, stable intermediates that are compatible with existing commodity handling systems (such as the grain system); 4) preconversion systems that condition and/or alter biomass characteristics to meet the performance specifications of a given biorefinery process; 5) biomass formulation systems that blend and aggregate biomass resources with similar or different physical/chemical properties to allow a multiplicity of biomass resources to supply a stable commodity system; and finally 6) biorefinery systems of appropriate scale to convert a few high-performance feedstocks to the diversity of fuels and chemical products necessary to replace the whole barrel of oil.
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