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Biomass

Mike Scharf's work with termites has shown that the insects' digestive systems may help br...

Ethanol is the most commonly used biofuel worldwide and is made by fermenting the sugar components of plant materials, usually sugar and starch crops such as sugar cane, corn and wheat. The difficulty in accessing the sugars contained in woody biomass, coupled with criticism that the use of food crops for biofuel production has a detrimental effect on the food supply has prompted research into biofuels that can be made from cellulosic biomass, such as trees and grasses. By looking at the digestive system of termites, researchers have now discovered a cocktail of enzymes that unlocks access to the sugars stored within the cells of woody biomass that could help make it a more viable source of biofuels, such as ethanol.  Read More

A NASA-led research team has created the most precise map ever produced depicting the amou...

A NASA-led research team has created a new map using ground and satellite data that accurately quantifies the amount and location of carbon stored in Earth's tropical trees and forests. Based on data from the early 2000s, the map focuses on 2.5 million hectares of tropical forest in seventy-five countries. Data shows that tropical forests contain 247 billion tons of carbon, and of this carbon stock, almost half is held in Latin American forests. Almost the same carbon stock is stored in sub-Saharan Africa in its entirety, compared with 61 billion tons of carbon stored in Brazilian forests alone.  Read More

Researchers have succeeded in producing isobutanol directly from cellulosic plant matter s...

With the situation in Libya causing a spike in fuel prices worldwide there's some good biofuel-related news out of the U.S. Department of Energy's BioEnergy Science Center (BESC) that could help to reduce many countries' dependence on oil imports. For the first time, BESC researchers have succeeded in producing isobutanol directly from cellulosic plant matter using bacteria. Being a higher grade of alcohol than ethanol, isobutanol holds particular promise as a gasoline replacement as it can be burned in regular car engines with a heat value similar to gasoline.  Read More

A rendering of the building that will house the UBC Bioenergy Demonstration and Research P...

A first-of-its-kind biomass-fueled, heat and power generation system has been developed by a partnership between Nexterra Systems and General Electric, and is heading to the campus of the University of British Columbia (UBC) next year. The Bioenergy Research and Demonstration Project will meet around six percent of the total annual demand for electricity and up to 25 percent of the university's campus requirements for steam. UBC has just announced that the project has secured a substantial federal and provincial cash injection.  Read More

Agave has been identified as a potential new biofuel crop (Photo: Stan Shebs)

Agave is a very hardy, useful plant. It grows in hot, arid conditions, and has found use in the production of beverages, food, and fiber. Now, it looks like it could have yet one more use – a Mexican botanist believes it could be an excellent biofuel feedstock. Not only does it grow quickly, but global climate change shouldn’t adversely affect it, and it doesn’t compete with food crops.  Read More

Lignin (blue) in a regular Arabidopsis stem at left, and in a modified plant's stem at rig...

Biofuel derived from crops such as switchgrass certainly holds promise, although some critics maintain that such crops use up too much agricultural land – land that could otherwise be used for growing food crops. A genetic discovery announced this Tuesday, however, reportedly allows individual plants to produce more biomass. This means that biofuel crops could have higher yields, without increasing their agricultural footprint.  Read More

NEC has developed a new bioplastic from non-edible cellulose and cardanol that's said to b...

NEC has announced the development of a new biomass-based plastic produced by bonding non-edible cellulose with cardanol, a primary component of cashew nut shells. The new bioplastic is said to achieve a level of durability that makes it suitable for use in electronic equipment and boasts a high plant composition ratio of more than 70 per cent.  Read More

Biochar – a charcoal created by pyrolysis could offset 12 percent of human greenhouse ga...

According to a new study, as much as 12 percent of the world’s human-caused greenhouse gas emissions could be sustainably offset by producing biochar, a charcoal-like substance made from plants and other organic materials. That’s more than would be offset if the same plants and materials were burned to generate bioenergy, says the study. Additionally, biochar could improve food production in the world’s poorest regions as it increases soil fertility.  Read More

The new method for processing agricultural waste and any available biomass into biofuels t...

Biofuels are seen as a more environmentally friendly fuel source than petroleum-based fuels, but transporting the bulky biomass used to produce them is expensive because of their volume. It’s much more economical to transport the liquid fuel after it has been processed but this isn’t possible if the processing facilities are located far from the source of the biomass. A new method to process agricultural waste and other biomass could enable the creation of mobile processing plants that would rove the Midwest to produce fuels where the biomass is sourced.  Read More

A GlidArc reactor, which uses plasma technology to create clean biofuels (Photo:

The same process that illuminates big-screen plasma TV’s can now create ultra-clean fuels, according to a scientific report presented earlier this week. According to Prof. Albin Czernichowski from France’s University of Orleans, a device called a GlidArc reactor has successfully been used to create clean fuels from waste materials, utilizing electrically-charged clouds of gas called “plasmas.” One of the fuels is a form of diesel that reportedly releases ten times less air pollution than conventional diesel.  Read More

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