Renewable Energy Center

Biomass

Biomass and Biofuels
Collaborative Research Group

The Biomass and Biofuels Group brings together plant biochemists and ecologists; civil, environmental, and chemical engineers; and economists to study basic and applied approaches for the efficient production of non-food feedstocks from forested or marginal lands with limited freshwater availability as sustainable and renewable sources for biofuel generation within regional production systems.

We have complementary expertise in the production of biomass and biofuels from a diverse set of feedstocks and the conversion of these feedstocks by depolymerization, thermochemical and pyrolysis processes into useful gaseous, liquid and solid fuels.

The group is currently focused on five major research areas:

  1. Selection and optimization of terrestrial and aquatic biofuel feedstocks;
  2. Collection and efficient use of herbaceous, woody and waste stream biomass feedstocks;
  3. Leveraging of solar, wind, geothermal and wastewater resources in the production of biomass and biofuel feedstocks;
  4. Development pretreatment, extraction and conversion processes for biofuel production;
  5. Determination of the economically optimal mix and levels of (1-4) considering alternative locations, transport costs, size and sunk costs; and market opportunities for biofuel feedstock production, energy production and delivery.
Comparison of algal feedstock
Biofuels
Biofuels

Figure 1. Comparison of algal feedstock (Dunaliella salina) growth with simulated geothermal heating (left) and without (right). Supplemental heating provides for significant growth whereas without heating, no growth occurs for five months out of the year in Reno, NV.

Pending and Current Support

Biofuels Support