As the world continues to deplete its nonrenewable resources, there has begun a shift toward using renewable materials for the production of fuels and chemicals. Terrestrial biomass, as well as municipal solid wastes, provides renewable feedstocks for fuel and chemical production. However, one of the major challenges to using biomass as a feedstock for fuel and chemical production is the great amount of innate variability between different biomass types and within individual biomass species. This inconsistency arises from varied growth and harvesting conditions and presents challenges for conversion processes, which frequently require physically and chemically uniform materials. This chapter will examine intrinsic biomass compositional characteristics including cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin, extractives/volatiles, and ash for a wide array of biomass types. Additionally, extrinsic properties, such as moisture content and particle grind size, will be examined for their effect on biomass conversion to fuels using four major conversion processes: direct combustion, pyrolysis, hydrothermal liquefaction, and fermentation. A brief discussion on recent research for the production of building block chemicals from biomass will also be presented.
Part of the book: Biomass Volume Estimation and Valorization for Energy
Bioenergy is an important renewable energy option worldwide, but the industry is susceptible to a myriad of risks including biomass supply, of which drought plays a role. Crops yields decrease during drought, increasing year-to-year risk for the agricultural industry. For the renewable energy industry, in particular, the effect of drought on crops is substantial and complex. This chapter discusses the current state of knowledge regarding how drought affects biomass destined for renewable energy as it relates to dry biomass yields and chemistry, the latter of which heavily impacts cost of production and final product yields. Advanced supply systems are one option for reducing biomass supply risk. These systems lead to higher, less variable crop yields during uncontrollable events like drought; however, the quality of material supplied in a drought year may still vary as drought impacts plant chemistry. This chapter provides analysis for chemical composition of four bioenergy crops observing that both carbohydrates and lignin decrease during a drought year compared to a year with minimal to no drought. These chemical changes can impact biochemical conversion through inhibitor formation and altering degradability during pretreatment.
Part of the book: Drought