The journal believes that the collection, which includes a comparative analysis of more than a dozen mature technology biomass refining scenarios, will make a major contribution to the ongoing debate on the future potential of biofuels in the USA.
Professor Lee Lynd, the driving force behind the RBAEF project and a major contributor to the special issue, explains the background to the project. "The RBAEF project, which was launched in 2003, is the most comprehensive study of the performance and cost of mature technologies for producing energy from biomass to date" he says. "Involving experts from 12 institutions, it is jointly led by Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, and the Natural Resources Defense Council and sponsored by the US Department of Energy, the Energy Foundation and the National Commission on Energy Policy.
"It seeks to identify and evaluate paths by which biomass can make a large contribution to energy services in the USA and determine how we can accelerate biomass energy use. In addressing these issues, the study has focussed on future, mature technologies rather than today's technology."
Professor Lynd, from Dartmouth College's Thayer School of Engineering is co-author of five of the eight papers in the special issue.
Three of these papers are being made available free on the journal's website so that they can be accessed as widely as possible by researchers and policy makers.
They include a major paper in which Laser et al carry out a comparative analysis of 14 of the mature technology biomass refining scenarios outlined in detail in the preceding expert papers, looking at each process for efficiency, environmental impact and process economics.
"We conclude that mature biomass refining is highly competitive with the fuels currently available, based on all the factors considered" says Professor Lynd. "The most promising class of processes we analysed combined the biological fermentation of carbohydrates to fuels with advanced technologies that thermochemically convert process residues to electrical power and, or, additional liquid fuels. One of our important findings, which contradicts conventional wisdom, is that similar greenhouse gas emission reductions on a per ton biomass basis are anticipated for the production of liquid fuels and electricity via mature technology."
The researchers also found that the mature cellulosic biofuel technologies analysed:Have the potential to realise efficiencies on par with petroleum-based fuels.
Two other papers are also being made freely available by the journal until 31 May 2009.
The introductory paper by Lynd et al, which outlines the RBAEF project and provides an operative definition of, and method for estimating, mature technology. It also looks at a rationale for choosing the model feedstock, a list of the conversion technologies considered and, as a point of reference, a brief overview of the energy flows through a typical petroleum refinery.
A paper on the co-production of ethanol and power from switchgrass by Laser et al, which evaluates three process designs for producing ethanol and electricity from switchgrass. This shows that mature technology designs significantly improve both the efficiency of the process and the cost when compared to base case cellulosic ethanol technology. The resulting fossil fuel displacement is decidedly positive and production costs compete well with gasoline, even at relatively low prices.
"The RBAEF project has examined many potential biorefinery scenarios, but there are still aspects that we did not examine" says Professor Lynd.
"For example, a more extensive field-to-wheels life cycle assessment that incorporates the RBAEF process design results – including a comparison of alternative feedstocks – would be useful, as would an evaluation of chemicals co-production.
"Also, the papers in this special issue do not directly address the issue of gracefully reconciling large-scale biofuel production with competing land use and this clearly needs more study.
"Finally, it would be of great value to look at how we could find ways to accelerate progress towards the sustainable, large-scale production of cellulosic biofuels."
The journal's Editor-in-Chief, Professor Bruce E Dale, from Michigan State University, USA, believes that this special edition of Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining will be invaluable to researchers and policy makers alike.
"The journal is honoured to publish this special edition. We believe it sets a new benchmark in how we think about the potential of cellulosic biofuels to provide large-scale energy services, both in the USA and around the world" he says. "We sincerely congratulate Dr Lynd and his coworkers on the RBAEF project - particularly Dr Mark Laser of Dartmouth College who worked so effectively to pull the papers together. This is truly a landmark contribution."
"By making key papers in this series free we hope that this special issue of the journal will provide greater understanding of the exciting possibilities that biofuels can offer and help policy makers to make informed choices."
Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT
Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
08.12.2016 | Life Sciences
08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences