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About this book

This book presents a systems approach to bioenergy and provides a means to capture the complexity of bioenergy issues, including both direct and indirect impacts across the energy economy. The book addresses critical topics such as systems thinking; sustainability, biomass; feedstocks of importance and relevance (that are not competing with the food market); anaerobic digestion and biogas; biopower and bioheat; and policies, economy, and rights to access to clean energy. This is a contributed volume with each chapter written by relevant experts in the respective fields of research and teaching. Each chapter includes a review with highlights of the key points, critical-thinking questions, and a glossary.This book can be used as a primary or secondary textbook in courses related to bioenergy and bioproducts and sustainable biofuels. It is suitable for advanced undergraduate and graduate students. Researchers, professionals, and policy makers will also be able to use this book for current reference materials.

Table of Contents


Bioenergy Systems—A Wholistic Approach

While reductionism has helped drive scientific and technological progress with focused attention to parts of the whole, a wholistic systems approach is imperative for effectively addressing the global trilemma of food, energy, and environment in a sustainable manner. An overview of the role of bioheat, biopower, and liquid transportation biofuel in reducing our carbon footprint and resulting global warming is provided in this chapter. The policy and logistics considerations related to land use, feedstock supply chain management, location of biorefineries, feedstock transportation and storage, and bioproducts in concert with social, environmental, and economic considerations are also advanced. Some internet resources for simulating various scenarios to appraise the consequences of possible policy decisions are also provided for interested readers.
Abhijit Nagchaudhuri, Madhumi Mitra

Bioenergy, Consumer Decision-Making and Shaping the River Flow

All of us are consumers of energy. Even utility companies consume some form of energy to produce power and energy. Businesses are consumers of energy as are homes and individuals. In this chapter, we take the perspective of demand for energy. We explore theories of consumption, demand and consumer behavior that provide insights on how consumers make decisions regarding new forms of energy such as renewable energy. We look for explanations that may help consumers reduce or relinquish their fossil fuels-based energy consumption habits and why this has not occurred at this time. While examining the consumption side of the economic equation, we acknowledge that there are major issues in moving from a resource-based energy paradigm to a knowledge-based energy paradigm. The data on consumption is heartening as there are lead consumers such as institutions and major corporations that are adopting renewable forms of energy. Some countries have explicit goals to adopt renewable sources of energy. All these examples demonstrate that we are reaching critical mass regarding problematic awareness of the issues related to fossil fuel consumption. The next steps are cognitive awareness, affective sentience, consumer preference formation and evolution, belief shifting, adoption and advocacy. If history is plausible, this is the most likely path or model of adoption and diffusion of renewable forms of energy.
Monisha Das, Andrew D. Schiff

The Global Scenario of Biofuel Production and Development

Bioenergy has been ranking number one among all forms of renewable energy consumed by human beings. Over the past two decades, tremendous investment has been made in biofuel development and production. This chapter reviews the global research, refinery, and utilization of biomass-based liquid biofuels as transportation petro-fuel substitutes. There are four major types of liquid biofuels: bioethanol, biodiesel, pyrolysis bio-oil, and drop-in transportation fuels. Bioethanol has been commercially produced from lignocellulosic materials since 2013, supplementing the annual 25.7 billion gallons from food crops. Biodiesel from oilseeds and animal fats reached the 8.3 billion gallons/yr production capacity, with further increases depending on new feedstock development. Pyrolysis bio-oil and most drop-in transportation fuel candidates are still in the development stage, facing cost-effective conversion and upgrading challenges. Commercial production of two drop-in biofuels, hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), and Fischer–Tropsch liquids has just started or is starting. Overall, the global development and consumption of bioenergy and biofuels are steadily advancing, particularly in the cellulosic bioethanol and HVO sectors. By 2050, biofuels will likely account for 27% of the world’s liquid transportation fuel supply.
Mingxin Guo

Production Potential and Logistics of Biomass Feedstocks for Biofuels

Intensive biofuel production and utilization require an adequate and sustainable supply of biomass feedstocks. Globally, net terrestrial primary production is estimated at 56 × 1015 g C yr−1, storing 2.2 × 1021 J bioenergy in the annually synthesized biomass. Approximately 8.7% of this primary production can be sustainably used for energy purposes to meet 34% of the current human energy demand. Sustainable bioenergy feedstocks extend to feasible portion of food grains, crop residues, dedicated energy crops, forest debris, animal manures, and domestic organic waste. To transfer biomass feedstocks from the production field to biorefinery plants, an array of unit operations are involved, including harvesting, drying, transportation, densification, storage, and pre-processing. Machineries and equipments have been developed to implement the feedstock logistics. The overall biomass handling cost accounts for 35–50% of the total biomass production budget. Biomass logistics are a critical component in a biofuel production system and an essential part of the bioenergy supply chain. Technological advancement is warranted to improve the efficiency of biomass feedstock logistics.
Weiping Song, Rachel Apointe, Mingxin Guo

Bottlenecks in Biomethane Production from Agro-Industrial Wastes Through Anaerobic Digestion

Anaerobic digestion (AD) is a commercially viable option for treating several kinds of agro- and food processing wastes. It has been demonstrated as energy-efficient and eco-friendly technology for bioenergy production. It generates not only biogas, but can also provide essential nutrient recovery (N, P and K) from digested wastes which can be applied as biofertilizer. The present knowledge on anaerobic digestion is not sufficient and the full potential of it could not be tapped due to certain bottlenecks associated with it. Process inhibition is related to the characteristics of the substrate, type of the inoculum, pH, temperature, reactor configuration and the concentration of inhibitory substances. For wide dissemination of biogas plants there is a requirement in the improvement of process efficiency through modifications in the existing design of anaerobic digester for recycling of organic matter and the development of new mitigation technologies to overcome inhibitions caused by intermediate compounds. This chapter is focussed on the options and essential modifications needed to harness the full potential of biomethane production from agro-industrial wastes through anaerobic digestion.
Samuel Jacob, Lakshmishri Upadrasta, Rintu Banerjee

Oleaginous Lipid: A Drive to Synthesize and Utilize as Biodiesel

Turmoil of petroleum oil prices, energy, and environmental security, and its finite sources has made biodiesel a more attractive renewable fuel. Biodiesel, a mixture of fatty acid methyl esters (FAMEs) is conventionally derived from either vegetable oils or animal fats. However, using these conventional sources has raised food security concerns and their succinct supply can serve only for a small fraction of existing demand for transport fuels. Furthermore, the cost and acreages needed for the production of vegetable oils has impeded its use as a feedstock and necessitated to look for an alternative feedstock. Recently, much emphasis has been laid on oleaginous microorganisms for their ability to synthesize lipids under stress conditions. In comparison to vegetable oils, microbial oils have many dividends, such as short life cycle, less industrious, less land requirement, independent of season and climate, and easier to scale-up. This chapter attempts to focus light on recent research on oleaginous yeast, mold, bacteria, and microalgae as prospective oil resources for biodiesel production in the near future. In addition, the biochemistry of lipid accumulation, lipid enhancement via biochemical, metabolic and transcription factor engineering approaches, and fermentation processes have been discussed.
S. P. Jeevan Kumar, Althuri Avanthi, Anjani Devi Chintagunta, Anamika Gupta, Rintu Banerjee

Photobioreactors for Bioenergy Systems and Lipid Extraction Methods from Microalgae

Biofuels, especially those derived from plant materials, are being heavily investigated as an alternative to fossil fuels. Unfortunately, issues related to the use of food crops and arable land have plagued biofuel production efforts. In response, algae are touted as a suitable biofuel feedstock: they exhibit high growth rates, readily metabolize fossil fuel combustion products, and thrive well in marginal environments or intensive systems. Despite this, the efficiencies of the current algal production systems, their scalability, and the eventual price of the final product still require much research. The following review will attempt to chronicle the evolution of algal photobioreactors and also discusses the methodologies for oil extraction through the current state-of-the-art technologies. In particular, it aims to identify the contemporary and emerging issues involved in culturing algae for nutrient recycling and production of biofuels and ultimately compile and highlight the proposed solutions for the optimization of these systems.
Madhumi Mitra, Xavier Henry, Abhijit Nagchaudhuri, Kalyani Maitra

Thermochemical Conversion of Biomass

Sustainable biomass, with number of environmental and economic advantages, has enormous potential in reducing fossil fuels usage to mitigate climate change and achieving low-carbon economy. Because of variety of biomass species with numerous physical and chemical properties, conversion of biomass feedstocks into bioenergy and bio-based products involves a broad diversity of existing and emerging pre-treatment and conversion technologies. Biomass conversion into power, heat, fuels and bio-based products, based on the specific feedstock, is generally categorized into two major conversion pathways—biochemical and thermochemical. Thermochemical conversion technologies to convert sustainable biomass and organic waste into energy forms (heat, power, fuels and bio-based materials) can be categorized as direct combustion, gasification and pyrolysis based on the amount of oxidizing agent present. In this chapter, biomass thermochemical conversion to low-carbon energy and bio-based product production pathways is discussed.
Serpil Guran

Microbial Fuel Cells: A Path to Green, Renewable Energy

Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are clean, renewable energy sources and they generate self-sustaining clean energy through cellular respiration. MFCs do not require any external energy to operate and do not emit any excess greenhouse gases. MFCs can also be used for bioremediation by removing toxic materials by respiring a variety of metals and other harmful elements including iron and uranium. In this article, we have discussed the principles and designs of biofuel cells.
Kausik S. Das

Advancements in Thermochemical Modification of Wood for Bioenergy and Biomaterial Applications

This chapter explores recent work related to thermochemical modification of low-value woody biomass to produce high-value products for use in bioenergy and biofuel applications. Through thermochemical modification (i.e., pretreatment), woody biomass can be transformed into materials that have higher calorific values and improved electrical properties. In this chapter, advancements in research related to torrefaction and carbonization (i.e., pyrolysis) are discussed, along with the development of densified torrefied pellets and carbon materials. Torrefaction of woody biomass is a less severe thermochemical treatment that results in higher-value materials that can be used in energy applications as a substitute for coal and as a filler material for composites. To advance the use of torrefied woody biomass as a coal replacement fuel, densification technology is a key for improving storage and transportation. This chapter explores some key processing variables and their relationship to pellet quality. In addition, the relative carbon content of woody biomass is increased through pyrolysis. These carbonized materials can be used for fuel cells, energy storage, and as a filler and potential reinforcement in a variety of composite materials. During pyrolysis of wood, the porosity of the resulting material increases. In general, porous carbon materials are classified as microporous (<2 nm), mesoporous (2–50 nm), and macroporous (>50 nm) based on their pore diameters. This chapter focuses on research related to mesoporous carbon that has the ability to provide fast mass transport of molecules and large specific surface areas. These two properties are essential in many advanced energy storage and conversion applications.
David B. DeVallance, Xinfeng Xie, Tianmiao Wang, Jingxin Wang

Chemistry of Bioproducts

Bioproducts are bio-based products derived from sustainable resources or biomass. Energy, chemicals, and various materials obtained from such resources can be classified under the umbrella of bioproducts that provide an alternate to fossil fuel-derived products. Bioproducts offer the advantage of reducing greenhouse gas emission, arresting global warming, and preventing loss of fossil fuel resources. This document has attempted to review the three major classes of bioproducts, viz. bioenergy, biochemicals, and biomaterials from the viewpoint of a chemist. The emphasis has been primarily given to the understanding of chemical structures, formations, transformations, and reactions of various classified bioproducts. Chemistry is inevitable and omnipresent in the process of making bioproducts beginning with biomass through intermediates. The proper understanding, safe manipulation, and smart application of the chemistry involved in the generation of bioproducts are essential in the smooth transition from fossil fuel products to bioproducts with the ultimate goal of making the world a safer and cleaner place.
Santanu Maitra, Kalyani Maitra

Heating in the Northeastern USA with a Biomass Pellet Stove: Lessons Learned in a Rural Residential Setting

The chapter provides an overview of the carbon-neutral biomass-based alternatives for residential heating in rural areas. As with all alternatives, there are trade-offs. For example, biomass pellet stoves and gasifiers provide heat at a lower cost compared to fuel oil, but using a pellet stove or gasifier requires the installation of new equipment and often daily filling and cleaning that is not required by oil or natural gas furnaces/boilers. An overview of existing technologies for the conversion of biomass to heat and methods for preparing the biomass are discussed. The impacts to air quality differ greatly with each technology. More research is necessary to determine how to best prepare the biomass, which equipment is most efficient for burning biomass, and which combination of biomass and equipment is best at reducing negative impacts to air quality.
Corinne J. Rutzke, Michael A. Rutzke
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