Pacific Region Bioenergy Partnership

Our Library -- Learn about Bioenergy

In addition to the materials provided below, the U.S. DOE Biomass Program provides an excellent website to learn about bioenergy. The information resources and technologies sections are especially recommended. The Biomass Document Database contains a wealth of publications.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Energy Policy and New Uses has agricultural-related bioenergy information.

Introduction To Bioenergy


Glossaries


Bioenergy Assessments in the Pacific Region

Alaska has several assessments including a saw mill and pulp mill residue assessment (1991), a Southeast Alaska wood fiber and feedstock availability for ethanol (1998), and municipal solid waste (1991).

Hawaii has two assessments:

Oregon has two assessments:

Washington has four assessments:

Bioenergy funding opportunities

Bioenergy: Technologies, Federal and State Incentives is a 2004 report by the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, which provides an excellent review of federal and state level funding opportunities for bioenergy.

Biopower – Anaerobic Digestion

Biopower can be made from municipal solid waste in landfills. It can also be made using anaerobic digester technology from municipal wastewater and animal manure.

Anaerobic Co-Digestion on Dairies in Washington State – The solid waste handling permit Exemption (August 2011) - This factsheet briefly reviews the role of co-digestion within anaerobic digestion (AD), explaines the potential regulatory concerns, and details the solid waste handling permit exemption conditions.

Washington Dairies and Digesters (October 2011) - Report on dairies and digesters of Washington by the Washington Department of Agriculture. This report provides details about Washington’s dairy farms, profiles of the six operating digesters, and other valuable information, including a map of the dairies and digesters. For a map that shows the utility service territories of the dairies and digesters of Washington, click here.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Landfill Methane Outreach Program provides helpful information regarding the conversion of municipal solid waste to power or direct use.

Methane Recovery from Animal Manures: The Current Opportunities Casebook (1998) by Philip Lusk, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, (NREL/SR-580-25145), is an excellent report with in-depth information.

There are a variety of biopower technologies. The Pacific Region Biomass Energy Program has focused on the development of anaerobic digestion.

Two Novel Floor-scale Anaerobic Digestion Systems for Processing Food Waste (June 2012) A report by Washington State University Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources (WSU CSANR) and funded by Washington Department of Ecology Waste 2 Resources. This report focuses on two distinct approaches to promoting the commercialization of anaerobic digestion technologies necessary to catalyze transformative change in the organics management industry in Washington.
 

Biochar

Biochar from Biomass and its Potential Agronomic and Environmental Use in Washington (March 2016) - A Promising Alternative to Drawdown Carbon from the Atmosphere and Develop a New Industry

Methods for Producing Biochar and advanced Biofuels in Washington State Part 4: Literature Review Sustainability Issues, Business Models, and Financial Analyses (February 2013) – This report addresses development of a sustainable biomass economy; establishes frameworks for the development of business models; discusses development and testing of pyrolysis plants for biochar production; provides financial analysis; and examines technology improvements and developments of new products.

Biochar Background and Early Steps to Pacific Northwest Market Development (October 2012) - Globally, biochar is being explored to improve soils for crop production and to sequester carbon by storing atmospheric CO2 fixed by plants. It has also been demonstrated to have numerous environmental applications and ecosystem uses. It is a fast developing industry, regionally and globally. This report focuses on five current regional industry needs.

Organic Waste to Resources Research and Pilot Project Report: Use of Biochar from the Pyrolysis of Waste Organic Material as a Soil Amendment (September 2009) - Biochars from different feedstocks were tested on five soils. Biochars on all soil types increased soil C. Biochar C was stable in soil with mean residence times estimated in the hundreds of years. Soil nitrate levels were reduced with increasing biochar rate perhaps due to ammonium adsorption. Biochar did not accelerate loss of indigenous organic matter through the 'priming effect.' Biochars raised soil pH, but did not lead to consistent plant growth improvements.

Methods for Producing Biochar and Advanced Biofuels in Washington State Part 1: Literature Review of Pyrolysis Reactors (April 2011)

Methods for Producing Biochar and Advanced Bio-fuels in Washington State Part 2: Literature Review of the Biomass Supply Chain and Preprocessing Technologies From Field to Pyrolysis Reactor (May 2012) - This report summarizes the most relevant technologies for pre-treating biomass prior to pyrolysis.

Methods for Producing Biochar and Advanced Bio-fuels in Washington State Part 3: Literature Review Technologies for Product Collection and Refining (May 2012) - This report describes technologies and methods for products recovery, characterization, biochar activation, bio-oil refining strategies, and associated regulatory issues.

Biofuels

The Alternative Fuels Data Center of the U.S. Department of Energy provides information about alternative fuels including biofuels (ethanol, biodiesel and methanol).

Organic Waste to Resources Research and Pilot Project Report: Waste to Fuels Technology: Evaluating Three Technology Options and the Economics for Converting Biomass to Fuels (September 2009) - This study further investigated biomass from the 2005 biomass inventory by comparing three fuel technologies: cellulosic biomass conversion by fermentation for ethanol, or gasification for mixed-alcohols, and anaerobic digestion of high volatile solids biomass for methane production. The study then integrated the major cost factors: biomass availability, feedstock prices, transportation costs, processing costs, and geographic distribution into a comprehensive model framework using GIS and MATLAB-SIMULINK models, to assess final delivered fuel cost.

Organic Waste to Resources Research and Pilot Project Report: Converting Washington Lignocellulosic Rich Urban Waste to Ethanol (September 2009) - This study investigated the potential of producing ethanol from three primary sources: mixed waste paper, yard trimmings, and a laboratory prepared mixture (50/50 food & paper) representing MSW. Pretreatment consisted of dilute acid hydrolysis (mixed paper and MSW), and steam explosion (yard waste). Ethanol yields of 105, 90 and 55 gal/ton were found for the MSW, mixed paper, and yard waste. A preliminary Life Cycle Assessment showed that overall environmental impacts of ethanol production from MSW are highly beneficial compared to landfill. Conversion of the MSW mixture to ethanol was found to be economically viable.

Organic Waste to Resources Research and Pilot Project Report: New Bio-refinery Concept to Convert Softwood Bark to Transportation Fuels Final Report to the Washington State Department of Ecology (September 2009) - This project tested a new pretreatment concept to enhance the production of sugars from the fast pyrolysis of wood and straw. It proved that sugars recovered from pyrolysis can be easily converted into ethanol. These two results are important because they show that fast pyrolysis of wood or straw followed by bio-oil hydro-treatment can create green gasoline and diesel (from lignin), as well as ethanol (from cellulose).

Organic Waste to Resources Research and Pilot Project Report: Biodiesel and Biohydrogen Co-Production with Treatment of High Solid Food Waste (September 2009) - A two-step process was developed as a potential technology to produce hydrogen and biodiesel from food waste. The first process use fermentative bacteria to breakdown glucose from food waste to produce hydrogen and volatile fatty acids (VFA). The VFA are then fed to yeast for simultaneous carbon sequestration resulting in production of biodiesel from the oil-producing microbial biomass.

Ethanol

The Energy Division of the Washington State Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development has posted information about the availability of ethanol in Washington State, plus four maps indicating the number of flexible fuel vehicles by zip code. The accompanying E85 Zip Code Database keys zip codes to communities. Kim Lyons of the Washington State University Extension Energy Program compiled these materials for the division.

The Puget Sound Clean Cities Coalition provides an introduction to ethanol and biodiesel.

Quality standards for ethanol as a fuel are set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) International. There are two standards: 1) D4806-04a is the standard specification for denatured fuel ethanol (1 to 10 percent) for blending with leaded gasolines; and 2) D5798-99 (2004) is the standard specification for denatured fuel ethanol (a nominal 75 percent to 85 percent by volume). This and other ethanol standards are available for sale by ASTM International.

Does the energy used to produce ethanol (crop production and refining) exceed the embedded energy in the fuel? Estimating the Net Energy Balance of Corn Ethanol, from the Economic Research Service of U.S. Department of Agriculture (2002) is an updated report that shows there is a net positive energy gain from ethanol production, with a ratio of 1.34 to one (energy out versus energy in). In addition, Argonne National Laboratory has developed a software analytical tool called GREET. GREET stands for Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions and Energy Use in Transportation. Both net energy efficiency and greenhouse gasses are modeled using this tool. It is public domain. The August, 2005 PowerPoint entitled Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Impacts of Fuel Ethanol provides an analytical overview of the net energy of ethanol and plots all the various studies of net energy balance in graphical form.

The Oregon Cellulose-Ethanol Study is an evaluation of the potential for ethanol production in Oregon using cellulose-based feedstocks, by the Celilo Group for the Oregon Department of Energy (2000).

Biodiesel

Biodiesel - This 2003 report by the WSU Extension Energy Program provides a brief overview of biodiesel, emissions and costs.

Quality standards for biodiesel as a fuel are set by ASTM International. D6751-03a is the standard specification for biodiesel fuel (B100 is 100 percent biodiesel) blend stock for distillate fuels. This and other biodiesel standards are for sale through ASTM International.

Opportunities and Barriers for Biodiesel use in Washington State This 2003 report by the WSU Extension Energy Program outlines a biodiesel action plan for the State of Washington.

2004 Biodiesel Handling and Use Guidelines from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory is an updated version of the popular Biodiesel Handling and Use Guidelines. It features a frequently-asked-questions section, expanded biodiesel basics information, and the most current blending information (2004). The University of Idaho is a long-time leader in biodiesel fuel. The university’s website provides additional information.

Oilseed Crops

Biodiesel State of the Nation 2011

Studies, Fact Sheets and Reports

Bioproducts

Odor in Commercial Scale Compost: Literature Review and Critical Analysis (October 2013). This 2013 review and analysis examines the increasing rate of incorporation of bio-degradable food scraps and the impact it has on traditional composting processes with specific focus on increasing odor management needs. Issues of composting efficiencies when food scraps are incorporated, pre composting materials handling and transportation, and associated social and health issues from the release of volatile organic compounds and subsequent odors are reviewed. Examples of communities combining anaerobic digester and traditional composting technologies and various waste product handling and storage methodologies including the use of biochar as part of modern odor management and compost quality is included and explored further in the appendix of the analysis.

Organic Waste to Resources Research and Pilot Project Report: Creating High Value Potting Media from Composts Made with Biosolids and Carbon-Rich Organic Wastes (September 2009) - Composted organic waste including biosolids may substitute for potting soil for nursery uses. This study found that composted organic materials can perform as well as typical peat-perlite potting mixtures.

The Forest Biorefinery A Partial View - This 2004 PowerPoint presentation by B. A. Thorp, Georgia Pacific was given at the Wisconsin Biorefining Videoconference June 17, 2004. It provides a look at the forest products industry’s Agenda 2020 that includes the development of biorefineries at pulp and paper mills.

Western Regional Capabilities in Plant/Crop based Renewable Resources - This 2003 study was developed by a consortium of Washington State University, University of Idaho, University of California, Davis, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory. It delineated the organizational strengths of the Northwest Bioproducts Research Consortium.

WSU Bioproducts Research Summary - This October 2004 summary from the Agri-Environmental and Bioproducts Engineering Research Group provides an overview of their efforts to develop new high value bioproducts that are often linked with biopower and biofuels.

Biomass feedstocks

An Assessment of Forest-Based Biomass Supply And Use in Montana - April 2009 report from the University of Montana, Missoula (for the Forestry Assistance Bureau).  This report examines and quantifies the volumes of four woody biomass types from several sources in Montana:  live trees, standing dead trees, logging residue, and primary mill residue.

Woody Biomass Energy - June 2007 report from the Oregon Forest Resources Institute with color photos and charts, examines opportunities for the conversion of woody biomass from forest thinning into “green” energy, biofuels and other bioproducts. It also looks at some short-term potential for moving Oregon forward in developing an industry tied to the removal of woody biomass from overcrowded forests.

Roadmap for Agricultural Biomass Feedstock Supply in the United States - This 2003 publication by the U.S. Department of Energy provides an in depth technical review of bioenergy production, harvesting, collection, storage, preprocessing, system integration, and transportation of bioenergy crops.

Gasification/Pyrolysis

Gasification and pyrolysis are closely related emerging bioenergy technology options. They are thermochemical in approach as opposed to biological. Fuel, power and chemicals can be made from across the range of these technologies. A number of gasifiers are now online throughout the United States and others are in various stages of project development. Gasification heats organic material and drives off the volatile organic compounds into what is called producer gas. Pyrolysis adds pressure and can produce bio-oils. Various temperatures yields different results. Lower temperatures leave a very stable activated/crystallized carbon or biochar. Biochar is of special interest for two reasons: 1) The potential for carbon negative energy; and 2) The major soil improvements provided by biochar. Higher temperature systems produce more gases and leave an ash.

What about environmental concerns? The report, The Formation of Polyaromatic Hydrocarbons and Dixons During Pyrolysis: A Review of the Literature with Descriptions of Biomass Composition, Fast Pyrolysis Technologies and Thermochemical Reactions (June 2008), provides guidance on how to avoid environmental concerns (avoid heavy metals and chlorine) and have processes operated below 700 degrees C. In addition, it provides the results of a world wide literature review of what is known and what are areas needing further research.

Clean Heat and Power Using Biomass Gasification for Industrial and Agricultural Projects (February 2010) - This guide is a practical overview of gasification on the small (<1 MW) and medium scales appropriate for food processors, farmers, forest products industries and others with access to biomass materials. The selection and application of gasifiers, engines and turbines, feedstock preparation and handling equipment, gas clean up technologies, and other ancillary equipment are discussed. Practical strategies for avoiding slagging, fouling and corrosion in the gasifier and downstream equipment are discussed.

Policy

Anaerobic Co-Digestion on Dairies in Washington State – The solid waste handling permit Exemption (August 2011) - This factsheet briefly reviews the role of co-digestion within anaerobic digestion (AD), explaines the potential regulatory concerns, and details the solid waste handling permit exemption conditions.

Growing Oregon’s Biomass Industry: Oregon’s Forest Biomass Strategy (November 2012) - This report by the Oregon Department of Energy outlines a strategy for Oregon to help it increase forest biomass utilization sustainably, revitalize their rural economies, and generate home-grown energy.

Letter from Western Governors’ Assn. (August 2010) - Letter to Carol Browner, Climate Change and Energy Advisor to the President, advocating for a clear and cohesive federal policy on the use of biomass for energy production, and the potential for negative impacts without one.

Research

Two Novel Floor-scale Anaerobic Digestion Systems for Processing Food Waste (June 2012) A report by Washington State University Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources (WSU CSANR) and funded by Washington Department of Ecology Waste 2 Resources. This report focuses on two distinct approaches to promoting the commercialization of anaerobic digestion technologies necessary to catalyze transformative change in the organics management industry in Washington.

Methods for Producing Biochar and Advanced Biofuels in Washington State Part 1: Literature Review of Pyrolysis Reactors (April 2011)

Methods for Producing Biochar and Advanced Bio-fuels in Washington State Part 2: Literature Review of the Biomass Supply Chain and Preprocessing Technologies From Field to Pyrolysis Reactor. (May 2012)

Methods for Producing Biochar and Advanced Bio-fuels in Washington State Part 3: Literature Review Technologies for Product Collection and Refining (May 2012)

Pathogen Reduction in a Community Based Anaerobic Digester, Final Progress Report (March 2011) - Ecology’s Waste 2 Resources Program (W2R) began conducting research through Washington State University in 2003 within Biological Systems Engineering and Agricultural Economics Departments. Biomass to fuels projects have also been completed within the College of Forest Resources at the University of Washington. All references are available on the Ecology Waste 2 Resources web page at: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/biblio/swfa.html. Click on the year on the top bar and browse list will come up. Numerous other reports such as state waste characterization reports, fact sheets, annual reports and more are also available. The reports below have been completed as a part of W2R’s ongoing efforts in Beyond Waste.

We encourage readers to also see the Washington State University Energy Extension Program library at: www.pacificbiomass.org. This library has an extensive set of reports on biomass energy. In addition, the extension librarian can provide an outstanding capacity for compiling resource reports and information.

Bioenergy Inventory and Assessment for Eastern Washington (October 2003) - This Phase 1 project assessed Eastern Washington's twenty counties for available biomass and calculated the potential energy production from twenty four organic resource types. Annual production of 4.3 million tons of underutilized dry biomass was found.

Biomass Inventory and Bioenergy Assessment: An Evaluation of Organic Material Resources for Bioenergy Production in Washington State (December 2005) - A biomass inventory and bioenergy assessment of forty five organic resource types across Washington was completed, producing this report and a database with GIS maps (http://www.pacificbiomass.org). Annual production of over 16.4 million tons of underutilized bone dry biomass was found, capable of producing (either by combustion or anaerobic digestion) over 15.5 billion kWh of electrical energy.

Producing Energy and Fertilizer From Organic Municipal Solid Waste -- Project Deliverable #1 (June 2007) - A literature review of current digester technologies formed the framework for designing a bench scale study of a high solids anaerobic digestion (HSAD) system. The study shows that significant improvements in methane production can be attained while decreasing capital costs for facilities. A new digester design is proposed that will optimize methane from organic food and green waste digestion, while recovering nutrients from the digestate.

Biomass Inventory Technology and Economics Assessment -- Report 1. Characteristics of Biomass (June 2007) - This project compiled a literature search for biomass chemical characterization and conducted supplemental laboratory study of forty two feedstocks for 33 parameters such as dry matter, COD, carbohydrates, lipids, elemental and mineral matter, and standard properties such as protein, fiber, pH, etc. A follow-on report will group similar feedstocks, assess potential energy conversion technologies and conduct an economic analysis of feedstock collection and energy production.

The Formation of Polyaromatic Hydrocarbons and Dioxins During Pyrolysis: A Review of the Literature with Descriptions of Biomass Composition, Fast Pyrolysis Technologies and Thermochemical Reactions (June 2008) - It is clear that any new thermochemical processing technologies must represent clean processes. To examine whether the production of bio-oils and biochar could generate PAH and dioxins during pyrolysis processes, a global literature review was conducted. Processing method for recovering energy, fuel and products from organic waste can have detrimental impacts such as odors and emissions from compost yards. This report also contains laboratory data on PAH and dioxins within biochar and bio-oil produced at the laboratory.

Organic Waste to Resources Research and Pilot Project Report: Waste to Fuels Technology: Evaluating Three Technology Options and the Economics for Converting Biomass to Fuels (September 2009) - This study further investigated biomass from the 2005 biomass inventory by comparing three fuel technologies: cellulosic biomass conversion by fermentation for ethanol, or gasification for mixed-alcohols, and anaerobic digestion of high volatile solids biomass for methane production. The study then integrated the major cost factors: biomass availability, feedstock prices, transportation costs, processing costs, and geographic distribution into a comprehensive model framework using GIS and MATLAB-SIMULINK models, to assess final delivered fuel cost.

Organic Waste to Resources Research and Pilot Project Report: Land Application-a true path to zero waste? (March 2010) - This study tested the benefits of recycling organic residuals to soils. Sites having previously received one or more biosolids and compost applications were sampled. Soil carbon and nitrogen were found to be higher, while soil density (compaction) decreased with the organic amendments. Soil water holding capacity was improved in over half the sites. Amendments turned into the soil rather than left on the surface further boosted the benefits. The amendments also increased crop yields over conventional fertilizer.

Organic Waste to Resources Research and Pilot Project Report: Converting Washington Lignocellulosic Rich Urban Waste to Ethanol (Septmber2009) - This study investigated the potential of producing ethanol from three primary sources: mixed waste paper, yard trimmings, and a laboratory prepared mixture (50/50 food & paper) representing MSW. Pretreatment consisted of dilute acid hydrolysis (mixed paper and MSW), and steam explosion (yard waste). Ethanol yields of 105, 90 and 55 gal/ton were found for the MSW, mixed paper, and yard waste. A preliminary Life Cycle Assessment showed that overall environmental impacts of ethanol production from MSW are highly beneficial compared to landfill. Conversion of the MSW mixture to ethanol was found to be economically viable.

Organic Waste to Resources Research and Pilot Project Report: New Bio-refinery Concept to Convert Softwood Bark to Transportation Fuels Final Report to the Washington State Department of Ecology (September 2009) - This project tested a new pretreatment concept to enhance the production of sugars from the fast pyrolysis of wood and straw. It proved that sugars recovered from pyrolysis can be easily converted into ethanol. These two results are important because they show that fast pyrolysis of wood or straw followed by bio-oil hydro-treatment can create green gasoline and diesel (from lignin), as well as ethanol (from cellulose).

Organic Waste to Resources Research and Pilot Project Report: Use of Biochar from the Pyrolysis of Waste Organic Material as a Soil Amendment (September 2009) - Biochars from different feedstocks were tested on five soils. Biochars on all soil types increased soil C. Biochar C was stable in soil with mean residence times estimated in the hundreds of years. Soil nitrate levels were reduced with increasing biochar rate perhaps due to ammonium adsorption. Biochar did not accelerate loss of indigenous organic matter through the ‘priming effect.' Biochars raised soil pH, but did not lead to consistent plant growth improvements.

Organic Waste to Resources Research and Pilot Project Report: Producing Energy and Fertilizer from Organic Municipal Solid Waste: Enhancing Hydrolysis and Bacterial Populations and Mixing and Thermodynamic Modeling of New Solid Waste Treatment Technology (June 2009) - This project developed, tested and modeled a high solids anaerobic digester consisting of a solids reactor and a leached liquids UASB for reacting volatile fatty acids. At near neutral pH the system improves methane production 50% over existing digesters, while return flow reseeds the solids digester with high titer micro-organisms that improved biological kinetics. The dual reactors system provides for control of digester limiting acid and ammonia processes, while allowing for nutrient recovery, and significantly improves performance for capital outlay.

Organic Waste to Resources Research and Pilot Project Report: Biodiesel and Biohydrogen Co-Production with Treatment of High Solid Food Waste (September 2009) - A two-step process was developed as a potential technology to produce hydrogen and biodiesel from food waste. The first process use fermentative bacteria to breakdown glucose from food waste to produce hydrogen and volatile fatty acids (VFA). The VFA are then fed to yeast for simultaneous carbon sequestration resulting in production of biodiesel from the oil-producing microbial biomass.

Organic Waste to Resources Research and Pilot Project Report: Sierra Heights Vermicomposter Project (September 2009) - A vermicompost bin was set up at the school. The project developed and put into practice a set of lesson (available at the link in the document) for teaching about food waste and composting.

Organic Waste to Resources Research and Pilot Project Report: The Next Step for Biomass Energy Development in Clallam County (September 2009) - New technologies allow us to harness the energy in animal and plant biomass to generate electricity and fuel vehicles. The energy derived biomass resources that are produced and harvested sustainably is considered renewable. This report is a primer on biomass power for Clallam County and funding opportunities.

Organic Waste to Resources Research and Pilot Project Report: Creating High Value Potting Media from Composts Made with Biosolids and Carbon-Rich Organic Wastes (September 2009) - Composted organic waste including biosolids may substitute for potting soil for nursery uses. This study found that composted organic materials can perform as well as typical peat-perlite potting mixtures.