Converting Biomass Feedstock into Fuel to Create Energy

Biofuels created from the conversion of feedstock play an important role in reducing carbon emissions by lessening our dependence on fossil fuels. This reduction in carbon emissions is essential in the effort to control climate change. Feedstock can be converted to biofuels such as ethanol, cellulosic biofuel and biodiesel to create dynamic energy sources.

Feedstock is defined as “any renewable biological material that can be used directly as a fuel or converted to another form of fuel or energy product.”[1] Examples of feedstock include corn starch, residue from sugarcane and various other crops, wood, and wood byproducts. Natural oils from plants such as soybeans and algae are feedstocks that can be burned directly in diesel engines or furnaces; these oils are a type of biodiesel when blended with petroleum.  

One of the ways feedstock can create energy is by converting sugar, which is contained in all plants, into ethanol through a process known as biochemical conversion. Corn and sugar cane are two very common feedstocks used for ethanol production. To ensure that enough feedstock exists to meet demand, the federal government limits the amount of ethanol produced by starch-based feedstocks such as corn to 15 billion gallons.

Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) as a Feedstock

Technologies are being developed to use municipal solid waste (MSW) as a feedstock, including the blending of municipal solid waste with other feedstocks to produce cost-effective fuels, particularly ethanol. MSW is a potentially rich source for feedstock because it contains a high concentration of biological and renewable materials.

Did you Know?

*15 billion gallons of biofuel displaces approximately 10 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel.

*According to a 2011 Department of Energy study, the U.S. has the potential to produce 473 million dry tons of biomass each year.

*Biodiesel is America’s fastest growing alternative fuel.

*Soybeans comprise slightly more than 50% of the feedstock used for biodiesel.

*Prehistoric cave dwellers used feedstock to create energy when they burned wood to cook food and to keep warm.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *