Report: Large-scale forest biomass energy not sustainable

Large-scale production could sacrifice forest ecosystem integrity and actually lead to higher greenhouse gas emissions

Forest biomass questioned as fuel source.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Large-scale use of forest biomass for energy production may be unsustainable and is likely to increase greenhouse gas emissions in the long run, according to a new study.

The research was done by the Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Germany, Oregon State University, and other universities in Switzerland, Austria and France. The work was supported by several agencies in Europe and the U.S. Department of Energy.

The results show that a significant shift to forest biomass energy production would create a ubstantial risk of sacrificing forest integrity and sustainability with no guarantee that it would mitigate climate change,” according to the researchers. Continue reading

New research could speed biofuel production

A new genetically engineered microbe could significantly speed production of biofuel. PHOTO FROM WIKIPEDIA VIA THE CREATIVE COMMONS.

Genetically modified microbe at the heart of streamlined conversion of biomass to isobutanol

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Researchers working at the Department of Energy’s BioEnergy Science Center say they have cracked a genetic code that will help speed the production of biofuel from tough cellulose raw materials like corn stover and switchgrass by developed a strain of a cellulose-degrading microbe that can synthesize isobutanol directly from cellulose.

Up to now, production of biofuel has involved several time-consuming steps that add to the cost, including pretreatment, enzyme treatment and fermentation.

Isobutanol is a higher grade of alcohol than ethanol and could eliminate the need for dedicated infrastructure in tanks or vehicles, Liao said. Compared to ethanol, higher alcohols such as isobutanol are better candidates for gasoline replacement because they have an energy density, octane value and Reid vapor pressure – a measurement of volatility – that is much closer to gasoline, he explained. Continue reading

New EPA report weighs pros and cons of biofuels

In some countries, biodiesel is less expensive than conventional diesel fuel. PHOTO BY BOB TUBBS, VIA WIKIPEDIA UNDER A CREATIVE COMMONS LICENSE.

Increased production could have significant environmental impacts, but result in a net reduction in carbon dioxide emissions

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A preliminary draft EPA report on renewable fuels like ethanol and biodiesel concludes that there are is a potential environmental downside to increased production. Tougher policies are needed to mitigate the impacts, the draft study concludes.

Background information and other links are at this EPA website.

The environmental impacts associated with ramped up biofuels production include water quality degradation due to erosion and fertilizer runoff in areas with concentrated production of biofuel crops. Additionally, “Increased cultivation of of feedstocks for biofuel could potentially affect wildlife habitat if uncultivated land is put into production. Some plants and animals could also face increased risk of exposure to pesticides. Continue reading

Biofuel ‘wiki’ aims to speed research

Innovative Energy in Breckenridge sponsors coverage of renewable energy stories. Click for more information.

Corn harvest by-products could help supply biomass for renewable energy.

High production cost still a limiting factor in biofuel adoption, info-sharing model may help steer research efforts in right direction

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Biofuel experts working with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Joint BioEnergy Institute are hoping that an online, wiki-based model of information sharing will help move research in a direction that will ultimately lower the production cost and lead to clean, green biofuels that can compete with gasoline in cost and performance.

“The high production cost of biofuels has been the main factor limiting their widespread adoption,” said Daniel Klein-Marcuschamer who helped develop the new techno-economic model for the industry. “We felt that a model of the biorefinery operation that was open, transparent about the assumptions it uses, and updatable by the community of users could aid in guiding research in the direction where it is most likely to reduce the production cost of biofuels.”

The JBEI technoeconomic model for biorefinery operations is free and available for downloading at http://econ.jbei.org. Continue reading

New Colorado venture builds market for beetle-kill fuel

Beetle-killed forests as far as the eye can see, even high up the slopes of Buffalo Mountain, in Summit County, Colorado.

Federal biofuel credit could help jump-start sales of stoves, boilers and even pellet-fuel BBQs

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY —A new Colorado-based company is hoping to jumpstart the commercial market for  beetle-killed wood with a network of stores selling eco-friendly pellet-fueled heating appliances, and a federal tax credit could help.

New Earth Pellets Depot last week opened its first retail location in Lakewood, selling heating stoves, furnaces and boilers, as well as unique items like pellet BBQ grills and beetle kill furniture. A sidebar blurb on the company’s well-organized website points out that Uncle Sam is offering to pay you back for nearly a third of your purchase price and installation costs for a wood pellet stove or insert — but only through Dec. 31, 2010. Get info on the tax credit here. Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,969 other followers