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Energy 101

Energy Technology and Policy

Dr. Michael E. Webber The University of Texas at Austin

Module 16: Renewable Energy VI: Bioenergy

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Bioenergy Has Several Forms


Typically for heat and power


Similar to methane or natural gas


Liquid fuels

Wood, straw, bagasse, cow dung, waste Lower energy density than coal

Mostly CH4 (60-70%), with a balance of CO2 Made from decomposition of organic wastes (e.g. landll gas)

Ethanol, biodiesel, biobutanol Lower energy density than gasoline or diesel

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There Are Several Pathways For Bioenergy, But They All Start With Biomass

Biomass to direct combustion: heating, cooking, power generation

Wood stoves, wood boilers, pellet stoves, waste-to-energy power plants, etc.

Biomass to biogas for combustion: heating, cooking, power generation

Landll gas capture systems, anaerobic digesters, etc.

Biomass to liquid fuels: transportation

Bioreneries for alcohol production, etc.

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Bioenergy Resources Are Abundant Nationwide

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Bioenergy Is Attractive For Several Reasons


is consumed during growth because of photosynthesis


from combustion would have been released from decomposition anyway


Department of Energy

Renewable Domestic Feels natural


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Bioenergy Has Several Drawbacks

Land-intensive Water-intensive Concerns about indirect land use changes (such as

deforestation) in other parts of the world

Invites moral dilemma of food vs. fuel Ine cient use of photons
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1.3 Billion Tons of Biomass Are Available Renewably on An Annual Basis

Concluded in a landmark
2005 USDA/DoE study
Known as the Billion Ton Study Logging residues, wood waste, manure, crop waste, tree trimmings, yard clippings, etc. ~10 MMBTU/ton ~13 Quads available (upper limit) nationally

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Americans Generate 250 Million Tons of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Annually
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency / 2010 MSW Characterization Fact Sheet Graphic: Michael E. Webber, The University of Texas at Austin

300 Total MSW Generation [Million Tons]

240 Total MSW Generation 180 Per Capita MSW Generation


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0 1960





1985 Year





0 2010

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Per Capita MSW Generation [Pounds/Person/Day]

19602010 U.S. Municipal Solid Waste Generation

Much of the MSW Stream is Energy-Dense Fibers and Plastics

2010 U.S. Total Municipal Solid Waste Generation by Material
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency / 2010 MSW Characterization Fact Sheet Graphic: Michael E. Webber, The University of Texas at Austin

Paper and Paperboard Glass Metal Plastics Rubber and Leather Textiles Wood
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Yard Trimmings Food Scraps Other 0

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40 Annual MSW Generation [Million Tons]




About Half of MSW Is Landlled; the Rest Is Recycled, Composted or Incinerated

2011 U.S. Annual Solid Waste Flow [Million Tons]
Source: U.S. EPA/Alex Breckel Graphic: Michael E. Webber, The University of Texas at Austin
Recovery For Composting 20.7

4.4 pounds of MSW

per person per day
1.5 pounds is composted or recycled 0.5 pounds is incinerated 2.4 pounds is landlled
Total MSW Generation 250.4

Total Materials Recovery 86.9

Recovery For Recycling 66.2

Total Materials Recycled 58.4

Returned to Landll 7.8

Discards After Recovery 163.5

Discards To Landll 134.2

Total MSW To Landll 142.0

Combustion to Energy Recovery 29.3

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MSW Can Be Used Directly As a Fuel Source for Power Generation

Waste Incinerators: Direct generation of electricity

Known as Waste-to-Energy (WTE) or Energy Recovery Unpopular in the U.S. (because of concerns about emissions) As of 2010, the US only had 86 WTE plants with a total capacity of 2.6 GW Popular in Europe (because of land constraints)

Total annual generation potential:

~29 million tons/year ~10 MMBTU/ton ~300 trillion BTU/year (small part of overall mix)
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Unrecycleable Plastics And Fiber Residue Can Be Turned Into Fuel Pellets

John Fy e

Mechanical dies extrude the fuel pellets

John Fy e

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Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF) Pellets Can Be Used To Displace Fossil Fuels

John Fy e

John Fy e

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Why Cant We Just Use A Bunny As A Renewable Energy Source?

After all, it keeps going, and going, and going

Energizer Bunny design is a trademark of Energizer.

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Bunny Power is Another Source of Energy

them pets abandoned by their owners, are being shot, deepfrozen and burned in a heating plant in Sweden.
AP (via Spiegel)

Thousands of rabbits, some of

The frozen bunnies are shipped

to a heating plant in Karlskoga in central Sweden which uses them as biofuel and incinerates them to heat homes.

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Organic Wastes Can Be Turned Into Biogas Via Anaerobic Decomposition

Organic wastes can decompose two ways

Aerobically (in the presence of oxygen): organic waste CO2 Anaerobically (in the absence of oxygen): organic waste CH4

Biogas (or renewable natural gas, aka RNG) can be used just
like natural gas

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There Are Several Organic Waste Streams

Landll Gas: Mining for biogas from anaerobic digestion of MSW

WTE is direct use of MSW, landll gas is indirect use of MSW (with time delay) Landll gas capture and use is already in place today

Municipal Wastewater: anaerobic digestion of sludge Agricultural Operations: anaerobic digestion of manure
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Cow Power Is One Possible Solution

Agricultural manure to biogas through

anaerobic digestion
~100 million tons/year Enough for ~2% of annual electricity

Creates a 2nd revenue stream for farmers Turns an environmental liability (manure)
into a valuable commodity (fuel)

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Recent Policies Have Prioritized Biofuels, Especially Corn Ethanol, To Displace Petroleum

Mandates to purchase biofuels Ag subsidies to make the biofuels cost less Tax credits to make it cheaper for consumers
to purchase biofuels ($0.51/gallon)
Expired 1 January 2012 (after $20B of subsidies)


s on imported ethanol ($0.54/gallon)

Expired 1 January 2012

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Energy Independence & Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007) Called for Aggressive Penetration of Renewable Fuels
20062022 U.S. Applicable Volume of Renewable Fuel
Source: 202 of EISA 2007 Graphic: Michael E. Webber, The University of Texas at Austin

Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) [Bgal/year]


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2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 Year

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The USA Essentially Has A Mandate for E10

Todays consumption:
140 Bgal/year gasoline 40 Bgal/year diesel

EISA Caps Corn-Ethanol at 15 Bgal/year by 2022

~10% of annual consumption in 2022

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Biofuels Terminology
First letter indicates the fuel
B for Biodiesel (regardless of source) Not clear how to label biobutanol E for Ethanol (regardless of source)

Second number indicates the percentage Some standard biofuel blends

B5 = Diesel blended with 5% biodiesel B20 = Diesel blended with 20% biodiesel E10 = Gasoline blended with 10% ethanol E85 = Gasoline blended with 85% ethanol
Mariordo Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz

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Alcohols Are Just Hydrocarbons with an OH

Ethanol = Ethane + OH

Methanol = Methane + OH
very poisonous wood alcohol CH3OH

Propanol = Propane + OH
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There are Several Di erent Sources of Ethanol

Starches: Corn, etc. (USA)

Least amount of energy return per unit mass Process into sugars, then ferment to alcohol

Warren Gretz / NREL

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There are Several Di erent Sources of Ethanol

Sugars: Sugar cane, sugar

beets, etc. (Brazil)
More energy output per unit mass than corn Ferment directly to alcohol

Warren Gretz / NREL

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There are Several Di erent Sources of Ethanol

Cellulosic Materials: Corn stover,

wood chips, switchgrass,
Grows without irrigation, tillage, topsoil erosion Not everyone agrees with these claims Requires enzymes to break down lignin Enzymes is another word for money

Pat Corkery / NREL

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Ethanol Has Some Benets


reductions of 1952%

Oxygenate for CO Higher octane (108+)

allows higher compression ratio

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Alcohol Fuels Have Drawbacks

Ethanol has lower energy content than gasoline by ~30% Sparse refueling and distribution infrastructure Ethanol can corrode conventional pipelines
Build dedicated pipelines, or Transport fuels by truck or rail (using diesel fuel)

Source: National Corn Growers Assoc. & Andrews & Jelley

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Corn-Based Ethanol is Problematic

Requires about as much energy to

make as it yields fuels at the farm

Corn cannot be piped, so it is

usually trucked (using diesel)

Consumes vast amounts of fossil

natural gas-based fertilizers petroleum-based herbicides and pesticides heat for fermentation from natural gas or coal diesel-powered trucks and farm equipment

Consumes vast amounts of water:

6 gallons H2O/gallon ethanol for processing 6001,500 gallons H2O/gallon ethanol for growing

Expedited topsoil erosion

Negatively impacts the nitrogen cycle growing dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico

Limited land capacity

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Bioreneries Are Smaller Than Petroleum Reneries

Bioreneries for Ethanol Production

209 bioreneries as of January 2012 with capacity for 14.9 Bgy
Source: RFA, Feb 2013

Petroleum Reneries for Gasoline Production

149 reneries as of January 2011 with capacity for 140 Bgy 25% fewer reneries with 10x higher overall output

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Brazils Ethanol Miracle Has Several Key Di erences

Proalcool Program Started in

the 1970s

Brazil uses sugar, not corn

Higher energy content per unit mass Does not require irrigation Does not require fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides Grown for ~500 years without depleting the topsoil (Brought to Brazil in 1532 by Martim Afonso de Souza) Sugar is semi-perennial, NOT annual Three crops/year, replanting every 5 years
Source: Milton Maciel; EIA; ASME

Cars are all ex-fueled with onDi erent air quality laws board computers to adjust between fuel mixes price comparison

Market system allows for easy

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Biodiesel Looks Appealing

Uses waste and many non-food crops

Restaurant grease: tailpipes smell like tortilla chips Can help avoid food vs. fuel dilemma

Similar energy content as petroleumbased diesel fuel

Rudolf Diesel demonstrated his new

engine at the Paris World Fair in 1901 using peanut oil

Alabama Inst. for Deaf and Blind

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Biodiesel can be Made From a Variety of Feedstocks

Soybean Oil: Most common source in

the U.S.

Canola (Rapeseed) Oil: Most common

source in EU

Palm Oil: World production exceeds

Main producers: Malaysia and Indonesia

soybean oil and concentrated in Far East

Warren Gretz / NREL

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Biodiesel can be Made From a Variety of Feedstocks

Coconut Oil: High concentration of

saturated fatty acids

Beef Lard: Fat obtained from cows,

restaurant grease, etc. but experimental

Algae: High potential productivity,

Pat Corkery / NREL

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Biodiesel Is a Leading Cause of Deforestation in Malaysia

Source: National Geographic, November 2008

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Its going to be hard to grow our way out of this problem

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Dr. Michael E. Webber

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