Ecological Dimensions of Biofuels Production and Use: Resources
National Academies Summit on America's Energy Future
On March 13-14, 2008, this summit will feature presentations by leading thinkers on energy policy from the U.S. government, universities, and the private sector, as well as international perspectives. This event will serve to develop information for the Academie's ongoing study, America's Energy Future: Technology Opportunities, Risks and Tradeoffs, and to stimulate discussion among leading thinkers with diverse points of view on energy issues as the 2008 U.S. elections approach.
National Academy of Sciences building: 2100 C Street, NW; Washington, D.C.
The Brazil Institute: Biofuels Central
Current news, publications and resources exploring the future of biofuels. The forum is an independent reference source offering diverse analysis and information regarding the potential impacts of alternative energy.
World Resources Institute (WRI) Biofuels Project:
Biofuels Production and Policy: Implications for Climate Change, Water Quality, and Agriculture
This project assesses the impact of biofuel production on the environment and agricultural structure, and how policy influences feedstock production, technology change and the environment.
Information Network (BFIN)
BFIN is a gateway to a wealth of biomass feedstock information resources from the U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and other research organizations.
The mission of USDA's Bioenergy and Energy Alternatives Program is to create jobs and economic activity in America , reduce the Nation's dependence on foreign oil, and improve the environment by developing alternate energy sources and increasing the use of agricultural crops as feedstocks for biofuels. A searchable database of current research projects is available at this webpage.
The USDOE Biomass Program develops technology for conversion of biomass (plant-derived material) to valuable fuels, chemicals, materials and power, so as to reduce dependence on foreign oil and foster growth of biorefineries.
NREL is working to develop cost effective, environmentally friendly biomass conversion technologies to reduce our nation's dependence on foreign oil, improve our air quality, and support rural economies. Biomass R&D efforts at NREL are focused on: biomass characterization, thermochemical and biochemical biomass conversion technologies, biobased products development, and biomass process engineering and analysis.
The NBC was established in October 2000 to support the science and technology goals of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Biomass Program. Headquartered at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), this virtual center unifies DOE's efforts to advance technology for producing fuels, chemicals, materials, and power from biomass.
Biorenewables, the bio-based economy and sustainability (The Royal Society 2011)
This issue of Interface Focus introduces readers to research into the use of plants to supply mankind with renewable energy and material resources. This field is given the general name of biorenewables research, but over the past few years it has come to public attention through media coverage surrounding one type of biorenewable product, liquid biofuels. The promise of biofuels as a climate change mitigation technology rests upon the technology's ability to maintain very low levels of greenhouse gas emissions in its production. This collection of peer-reviewed papers spans a number of continents and gives some impression of the scope of activity in biofuels across the globe.
Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, March 2008
Fueling Oregon with Sustainable Biofuels, a report by the Oregon Environmental Council, encourages policies and best practices that will maximize the environmental benefits of biofuels – from the growing and harvesting of feedstocks to the bio-refining process. The report discusses a range of sustainability issues, including net energy, greenhouse gas emissions, water usage, soil erosion, biodiversity, forest health, and air and water quality. The report compares the positive and negative elements of a variety of current and potential Pacific Northwest biofuel feedstocks. And the report outlines a series of principles to guide sustainable development of the industry. Download the report at www.oeconline.org/economy/sustainablebiofuels/index_html.
Biofuels and Water Quality Conference Presentations
This conference was hosted by the Mid-Atlantic Regional Water Program, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and USDA-ARS Beltsville Agricultural Research Center on April 4-5, 2007. Topics of discussion included the status and trends of ethanol production, potential water quality implications, nutrient management concerns, challenges to production, economic aspects of ethanol, diversity of biofuels, feedstocks, strategies, and needs and opportunities.
This guide from the Energy Future Coalition and the United Nations Foundation is divided into two parts: the basic facts about biofuels – how they are made, how much they cost, etc. – and the benefits of large-scale biofuels production and use.
Biomass as Feedstock for a Bioenergy and Bioproducts Industry: The Technical Feasibility of a Billion-Ton Annual Supply (April 2005, USDA & USDOE)
This report looks at whether the land resources of the U.S. are capable of producing a sustainable supply of biomass sufficient to displace 30% or more of the country's present petroleum consumption.
Biofuels for Transportation: Global Potential and Dimensions for Sustainable
Agriculture and Energy in the 21st Century (June 2006, Worldwatch
This report, sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV), is a comprehensive assessment of the opportunities and risks associated with the large-scale international development of biofuels.
Assessing the Biofuels Option, Seminar (June 2005, United Nations
Presentations are posted online from this seminar, which explored the near-term and longer-term global prospects for biofuels for transport, focusing mainly on the development of new markets. The seminar also explored the elements of a sound national strategy, along with the opportunities for international cooperation to expand biofuels production and use on a cost-effective, environmentally sustainable basis.
LIHD biofuels: toward a sustainable future
This editorial by Linda Wallace and Michael Palmer in the April 2007 Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, examines the pros and cons of high-input low-diversity(HILD) agricultural systems vs. low-input high-diversity (LIHD) systems for producing biofuels production feedstocks.
Breaking the Biological Barriers to Cellulosic Ethanol: A Joint Research Agenda
(June 2006, USDOE)
This research agenda for the development of cellulosic ethanol as an alternative to gasoline came out of the Biomass to Biofuels Workshop held December 7-9, 2005 in Rockville , Maryland . The 200-page scientific “roadmap” cites recent advances in biotechnology that have made cost-effective production of ethanol from cellulose, or inedible plant fiber, an attainable goal. The report outlines a detailed research plan for developing new technologies to transform cellulosic ethanol—a renewable, cleaner-burning, and carbon-neutral alternative to gasoline—into an economically viable transportation fuel.
Biofuels from Rangelands: Boon or Bane? (August 2007, Linda Wallace
and Jim Ansley, Abstract - Organized Oral Session, Ecological Society of
America 92nd Annual Meeting)
This future conference session examined the energetic, ecological and economic costs and benefits behind the use of rangeland feedstocks in both ethanol and bioheat projects. Some key issues include effects of biofuel growth and usage on greenhouse gas emissions, ecosystem integrity of the system(s) being harvested, effects on biodiversity, projected energy balances, and economic costs of production and use.
Water Implications of Biofuels Production in the United States (October 2007, National Research Council)
This report looks at the impact of ethanol production on water resources. Increased pressure on local aquifers used to grow and refine corn into ethanol, high levels of nitrogen in groundwater from pesticides and fertilizers, and runoff pollution in streams and rivers are a few of the potential impacts.