Jason Barton

Professional Information and Energy News

Biomass Markets and Technologies

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It’s an exciting time to be working with biofuels and bioproducts. When American’s today think of biofuels, corn ethanol is the example that immediately jumps to mind (for those nerds who actually think about these issues), which is somewhat warranted in that it is the dominant bio-transportation fuel in the U.S. and the world (surpassing Brazilian sugarcane ethanol in 2005). But as we look to the future of bioenergy and bioproducts, there is almost limitless potential, including distributed electricity generation and products from biomass possibly replacing the vast and diverse products currently coming out of today’s petroleum refineries.

As we pursue this potential, it is important to realize that humans have been controlling more and more of the Earth’s biomass to serve our purposes. Monoculture certainly has its advantages, but biodiversity is key to ensure the healthy functioning of ecosystems, not just for camping and admiring, but for providing clean air, water, and soil that are essential to our survival, and essential to the feasibility, and profitability, of bioenergy. Many of the biomass feedstocks discussed today, such as corn stover (stalks and leaves), are described as “waste products,” though corn stover has  traditionally been left in the field to maintain soil structure and health. The same goes for many materials described as “timber residues,” which are important to forests and cannot be completely removed for use in bioproducts without potentially damaging the health of forests.

While the report below does not appear to be focusing on these issues, it definitely has some important and provocative insights towards this discussion.

Biomass Energy Generation, Biofuels, and Bioproducts:
Market Analysis and Forecasts

WoodpelletsBiomass, already a large percentage of total renewable energy sources, is poised for strong growth in the years to come within three key sectors: biopower, biofuels, and bioproducts. Significant investments continue to be made in biomass research and development, and the pace of commercializing new technologies will increase during the next decade.

Many different feedstocks can be classified as “biomass” including corn and grains, plants and forest resources, construction/industry waste, agricultural and food industry wastes, terrestrial and aquatic energy crops, municipal waste and manure. Applications for biomass range widely, from power generation to heating, transportation fuels, chemicals, and plastics. The development of the biomass industry is in large part driven by government policies and mandates and, while world governments are likely to back away from some of the aggressive targets set a few years ago, Pike Research anticipates that biomass will continue to be a significant focus for energy policymakers.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

September 5th, 2010 at 6:36 pm