On Chicago’s South Side, a unique bioenergy project helps fuel community connections

Read the full story at Energy News Network.

A biodigester fueled by food waste in Chicago’s Auburn Gresham neighborhood is the centerpiece of a larger development to grow healthy food and economic opportunities.

Analysis of alternative bioenergy with carbon capture strategies: present and future

Geissler, C.H. and Maravelias, C.T. (2022). “Analysis of alternative bioenergy with carbon capture strategies: present and future.” Energy & Environmental Science 5, 2679-2689. https://doi.org/10.1039/D2EE00625A [open access]

Abstract: Biomass can be converted via fermentation, pyrolysis, gasification, or combustion to a variety of bioenergies, and each conversion technology generates streams with different flows and CO2 concentrations that can undergo carbon capture. We use system-wide optimization models to determine the conversion technologies and level of carbon capture that lead to the minimum breakeven cost of fuel for a range of capacities and sequestration credits. We investigate how the optimal systems depend on constraints, such as energetic biorefinery self-sufficiency; and parameters, such as biomass availability. Pyrolysis to gasoline/diesel with hydrogen purchase produces liquid fuel for the lowest cost when energy purchase is allowed, with flue gas capture incentivized at sequestration credits of $48–54 per Mg CO2. With increasing sequestration credits, gasification to gasoline/diesel with carbon capture becomes optimal. When all bioenergies are considered, the cost per forward motion of electricity and hydrogen is lower than for liquid fuels because of the higher efficiency of electric motors and hydrogen fuel cells. We find that while gasification to electricity results in the greatest greenhouse gas mitigation under the current energy production mix, gasification to hydrogen is expected to result in the greatest mitigation in the future as the energy production mix changes.

Broader context: Bioenergy with carbon capture and sequestration (BECCS) is expected to be pivotal in global warming mitigation. BECCS systems include conversion technologies such as fermentation to ethanol, pyrolysis to gasoline/diesel, gasification to gasoline, combustion to electricity, and gasification to electricity or hydrogen. However, it is not yet clear which of these different conversion technologies with integrated carbon capture has the greatest economic and CO2 mitigation potential. Accordingly, we determine the cost-optimal BECCS strategy under a wide range of scenarios and assumptions. Looking into the future, we present the expected mitigation potential of the most promising BECCS strategies through 2050.

Bioeconomy Policy Development Sprint

The bioeconomy – the part of the economy driven by the life sciences and biotech, and enabled by engineering, computing, and information science – has the potential to revolutionize human health, climate and energy, food security and sustainability, and supply chain stability, as well as support economic growth and well-paying jobs across the entire country. The U.S. government has recognized this exceptional promise: The recent Executive Order on advancing the U.S. bioeconomy and relevant provisions in the CHIPS and Science Law and the Inflation Reduction Law have opened up an excellent opportunity to engage with the U.S. government to help develop and shape the implementation of policies to bolster the economic engine that is the biotech and biomanufacturing ecosystem.

The Day One Project now needs your help to generate innovative, specific, and actionable policy ideas that the U.S. government could use to supercharge the U.S. bioeconomy.

They are particularly focused on:

  • Leveraging financial or economic tools – such as loan programs, tax incentives, demand-pull mechanisms, and economic development challenges – to support and advance the U.S. bioeconomy in ways that enable and incentivize biotech or biomanufacturing to expand into new regions of the U.S., build new facilities, and engage in workforce development efforts;
  • Enabling better measurement of the U.S. bioeconomy’s contributions to the rest of the economy; and
  • Devising new authorities that may be needed at federal agencies in order to support a maximally-coordinated effort to advance the U.S. bioeconomy.

Submit your idea here. Submissions are due Monday, November 7th, and will be reviewed on a rolling basis, so submit today!

Academics develop PET-like plastics from biomass waste

Read the full story at Resource.

New research from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne’s (EPFL) School of Basic Sciences has revealed a method for the creation of PET-like plastics using biomass waste. According to its developers, the new method shows great promise in meeting the demand for more sustainable options within the plastics industry.

Researchers create method for breaking down plant materials for earth-friendly energy

Read the full story from Michigan State University.

Researchers have developed a chemical method that enables electricity and water to break the strong chemical bonds in biomass or plant matter. This “electrocatalytic” process could be applied to lignin, a carbon-rich biomass component that is usually discarded or simply burned as a byproduct of making paper. This new tool also has the potential to destroy environmental pollutants.

Developing a degradation-triggerable plastic made of vanillin

Read the full story at Phys.org.

From inexpensive mass products to tailored high-tech materials, our modern world without plastics is unimaginable. The major downside to this is the use of fossil fuels and the growing quantities of waste. A new approach could be the production of high-grade plastics made from biomass that could be made to fall apart into recyclable components. The “destruct command” would be given with light of a specific wavelength, as demonstrated by researchers in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

Revolutionary biomass-based plastic used for blister packaging

Read the full story at European Pharmaceutical Review.

Astellas’ use of biomass-based plastics represents the world’s first use of biomass plastic for drug blister packaging.

Balancing bioenergy goals

Read the full story from North Carolina State University.

The NC Department of Agriculture funds research and development of second-generation bioenergy crops through the NC Bioenergy Initiative. While biomass crops like corn, sugarcane, and grasses offer NC growers an attractive renewable energy option, agricultural and environmental concerns suggest that biomass crop production could cannibalize commodity crop acreage or environmentally sensitive forests and wetlands. Biomass crops are typically designated for ‘marginal’ agricultural land, but there has been no explicit agreement on the term’s definition.

In the first stage of an ongoing bioenergy research project, NC State Professor of Soil Physics and Hydrology, Josh Heitman, and his research team sought to establish practical criteria to identify marginal agricultural land in North Carolina.

Webinar: GTI Tech Talk: Producing Low or Negative Carbon Fuels from Sustainable Biomass Resources

May 12, 2021, 10 am CDT
Register here.

Pedro Ortiz-Toral discusses bio-derived diesel and biomass conversion

Biomass can be used to produce clean alternative transportation fuels that maintain the energy density and storability advantages of liquid fuels while offering unique solutions for difficult-to-decarbonize sectors such as marine transportation and aviation.

Transformational technologies that produce low-carbon fuels from renewable resources are being demonstrated at facilities all around the world. This engaging webinar will present insight on near-market and other improved process technologies that can even enable carbon negative energy when combined with carbon sequestration.

ISU research looks to turn waste into fuel

Read the full story at the Daily Nonpariel.

Researchers at Iowa State University are working with others to determine new methods of turning biomass and manure into fuel.

The key to the project is using anaerobic digestion to generate renewable natural gas, according to Mark Mba Wright, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Iowa State.

Iowa State joined with Penn State University and Roeslein Alternative Energy in getting a five-year, $10 million grant from USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture for the project.