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Roadmap for Bioenergy

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  Advisory Committee Updates Roadmap for Bioenergy and Biobased Products in the United States Ken Green, BCS, IncorporatedThe Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory Committee recently released its 2007 Roadmap for Bioenergy and Biobased Products in the United States .  The Roadmap lays out a concrete R&D strategy and recommends policy measures needed to advance biomass technologies and help create an economically viable, sustainable and environmentally desirable biobased industry.  The Committee’s Roadmap also reflects progress made since the Committee’s original Roadmap released in 2002, plus the dramatic rise in interest in biomass technologies that has occurred since then.  The Biomass R&D Technical Advisory Committee developed the Vision for Bioenergy and Biobased Products in the United States and the Roadmap for Bioenergy and Biobased Products in the United States to define a set of achievable quantitative goals and identify an R&D strategy to enable these goals. Developed in 2002, these documents have since been used to guide the joint research solicitation issued each year by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Energy. Having made important progress since then, the Committee was asked by the Secretaries of Agriculture and Energy in 2005 to update its Vision and Roadmap.  The Vision was updated in December of 2006 and established aggressive goals for the role of biobased fuels, products and power in the U.S. economy.  The newly released Roadmap steps up to these ambitious goals with a highly focused R&D strategy that guides near-, mid-, and long-term efforts so as to advance all the processes that comprise the biomass-to-biofuels chain. Since biomass feedstocks, distribution and production systems, and retail markets for biofuels and bioproducts vary widely by region, regional Roadmap workshops were held in the Central, Western and Eastern U.S. to ensure the Roadmap reflected localized issues and opportunities. Each Regional Workshop was chaired by a member of the Committee: Tom Binder of ADM chaired the Central, Ralph Cavalieri of Washington State University chaired the Western, and Doug Hawkins of Rohm and Haas chaired the Eastern. At each of these workshops, facilitated discussions helped local experts to identify feedstock, production, infrastructure, and market-related barriers to achieving Vision goals. Workshop participants then mapped technical and policy recommendations to overcome those barriers. BCS, Incorporated worked with each of the chairs to organize and facilitate the workshops as well as develop the Roadmap document. The Roadmap integrates those recommendations into a research strategy addressing several key areas in the biomass-to-biofuels chain: 1.      Feedstock System §         Plant Science Research§         Harvesting and Treatment§         Resource Management and Sustainable Development§         Economic Analysis 2.      Processing and Conversion§         Analysis of Processes Found in Nature§         Oils, Sugars, and Protein Platforms§         New Approaches to Separations§         Modular and Decentralized Preprocessing and Conversion Systems§         Biodiesel Production§         Conversion Processes (Biochemical and Thermochemical)3.      Transportation, Storage, and Distribution Infrastructure§         Pipelines§         Rail, Barge, and Highway§         Systems Integration§         Regional Markets4.      End-Use Markets 5.      Crosscutting Processes and Technologies§         Biorefinery Demonstration and Deployment§         Transportation Studies§         Modular/Distributed Systems§         Integrated Systems Analysis§         Metrics Development §         Other Analytical Studies The Roadmap will continue to be used as a reference document for applicants seeking research funds under the joint solicitation for biomass research issued annually by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Energy.   

With increased national interest in bioenergy, the Roadmap can also provide strategic guidance to other national initiatives that seek to increase energy security and reduce dependence on oil, such as the President’s “Twenty in Ten” goal which establishes an even more aggressive goal for biofuels than the Committee’s Vision. Although the Committee’s Vision document and its Regional Roadmap Workshops preceded the launch of “Twenty in Ten,” the Committee’s Roadmap fully supports the initiative.  However, “Twenty in Ten” warrants major advances in the categories of research and policy outlined in the Roadmap, especially in plant sciences and conversion technologies, to make cellulosic ethanol cost competitive. It will require infrastructure development to harvest, store, transport, and treat feedstocks, as well as advances in technology and infrastructure to produce and distribute biofuels.

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Written by Casey McConnell

February 17, 2008 at 1:29 am

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