Cellulosic biofuels offer similar, if not lower, costs and very large reductions in greenhouse gas emissions compared to petroleum-derived fuels. That's one of the key take-home messages from a series of expert papers on "The Role of Biomass in America's Energy Future (RBAEF)" in a special issue of Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining.
The journal believes that the collection, which includes a comparative analysis of more than a dozen mature technology biomass refining scenarios, will make a major contribution to the ongoing debate on the future potential of biofuels in the USA.
Professor Lee Lynd, the driving force behind the RBAEF project and a major contributor to the special issue, explains the background to the project. "The RBAEF project, which was launched in 2003, is the most comprehensive study of the performance and cost of mature technologies for producing energy from biomass to date" he says. "Involving experts from 12 institutions, it is jointly led by Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, and the Natural Resources Defense Council and sponsored by the US Department of Energy, the Energy Foundation and the National Commission on Energy Policy.
"It seeks to identify and evaluate paths by which biomass can make a large contribution to energy services in the USA and determine how we can accelerate biomass energy use. In addressing these issues, the study has focussed on future, mature technologies rather than today's technology."
Professor Lynd, from Dartmouth College's Thayer School of Engineering is co-author of five of the eight papers in the special issue.
Three of these papers are being made available free on the journal's website so that they can be accessed as widely as possible by researchers and policy makers.
They include a major paper in which Laser et al carry out a comparative analysis of 14 of the mature technology biomass refining scenarios outlined in detail in the precedin
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