March 9, 2009
Biomass measures up to petroleum
We know that biofuels, to a greater
or lesser degree, are environmentally better than petroleum-based
fuels. It turns out that many are also comparable to petroleum fuels
in cost and production efficiency.
An analysis of the efficiency, environmental impact and economics
of various processes for converting biomass to fuel, energy and/or
animal feed came up with three key findings. Most biofuel processes
cost the same or less than petroleum-based fuels. All have lower greenhouse
gas emissions than petroleum-based fuels. And the best processes are
just as efficient.
Processes that combine biologically produced ethanol and thermochemically
produced fuels and/or power are 61 to 80 percent efficient and cost
$0.96 to $1.24 for the equivalent of a gallon of gasoline.
The analysis found that mature processes for converting cellulosic
biomass to biofuel are as efficient as petroleum fuels and cost the
same to produce as gasoline when oil prices are about $30 a barrel.
Analysis of Efficiency, Environmental Impact, and Process Economics
for Mature Biomass Refining Scenarios
Biofuels, Bioproducts & Biorefining, published online March
Related stories and briefs:
energy under fire -- related research
The Role of Biomass
in America's Energy Future (RBAEF) -- project page
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March 9, 2009
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