With the goal of understanding environmental effects of a growing bioeconomy, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), national laboratories, and U.S. Forest Service research laboratories, together with academic and industry collaborators, undertook a study to estimate environmental effects of potential biomass production scenarios in the United States, with an emphasis on agricultural and forest biomass. Potential effects investigated include changes in soil organic carbon (SOC), greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, water quality and quantity, air emissions, and biodiversity.
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The Federal Activities Report on the Bioeconomy has been prepared to emphasize the significant potential for an even stronger U.S. bioeconomy through the production and use of biofuels, bioproducts, and biopower. Bioeconomy activities have already touched on the interests of many federal agencies and offices. This report is intended to educate the public on the wide-ranging, federally funded activities that are helping to bolster the bioeconomy.
Conventional feedstock supply systems exist and have been developed for traditional agriculture and forestry systems. These conventional feedstock supply systems can be effective in high biomass-yielding areas (such as for corn stover in Iowa and plantation-grown pine trees in the southern United States), but they have their limits, particularly with respect to addressing feedstock quality and reducing feedstock supply risk to biorefineries. They also are limited in their ability to efficiently deliver energy crops.
Understanding the development of the biofuels industry in the United States is important to policymakers and industry. The Biomass Scenario Model (BSM) is a system dynamics model of the biomass-to-biofuels system that can be used to explore policy effects on biofuels development. Because of the complexity of the model, as well as the wide range of possible future conditions that affect biofuels industry development, we have not developed a single reference case but instead developed a set of specific scenarios that provide various contexts for our analyses.
The Biomass Scenario Model (BSM) is a system dynamics model that represents the entire biomass-to-biofuels supply chain, from feedstock to fuel use. The BSM is a complex model that has been used for extensive analyses; the model and its results can be better understood if input data used for initialization and calibration are well-characterized. It has been carefully validated and calibrated against the available data, with data gaps filled in using expert opinion and internally consistent assumed values.
In support of the national goals for biofuel use in the United States, numerous technologies have been developed that convert biomass to biofuels. Some of these biomass to biofuel conversion technology pathways are operating at commercial scales, while others are in earlier stages of development. The advancement of a new pathway toward commercialization involves various types of progress, including yield improvements, process engineering, and financial performance.
Transitioning to a larger biofuels industry requires a robust biomass-to-biofuels system of systems that operates within existing agriculture, forestry, energy, and transportation markets. Using the existing fuel supply chain infrastructure as a framework, this paper discusses a vision for biomass-based fuels and the challenges associated with a massive market and infrastructure transformation.
Biomass Scenario Model Zotero References
National Renewable Energy Laboratory