BioFuelNet is structured around sequential stages in a biofuels value chain, or production system: feedstocks, conversion, and utilization. A fourth research theme addresses the socio-economic and environmental sustainability (SEES) of Canadian biofuels production. These four themes create strong communities of interest on cross-cutting issues related to biofuels, driving internal knowledge exchange. This page provide theme details.
Examining the source of the material used to create the biofuels and the ultimate limitation on how much biofuel can be produced.
Feedstock availability represents the ultimate limitation on how much biofuel Canada can produce. This theme examines the source of the material used to create the biofuels, with a particular focus on non-food materials such as woody species, grasses, algae, and municipal solid waste.
The theme also covers studies of biomass availability, the genetics of woody species and grasses, low-input production practices for purpose grown biomass, harvest and handling of biomass crops, collection of forest and agricultural residues, densification of biomass and the effects of biomass properties on various conversion processes.
Conducting research into the manufacture of fuels and the current major impediment to efficient and cost effective fuel production from non-food biomass.
The conversion step is the current major “bottleneck” to efficient and cost effective fuel production from non-food biomass. This theme addresses the major areas of research required to improve the conversion of biomass into high quality fuels. Using a biochemical approach, this could mean developing enzymes that are fast enough and inexpensive enough to allow rapid and efficient conversion of cellulose and hemi-cellulose into various alcohols.
Using a thermochemical approach, this could mean producing bio-oil or syngas, both of which require further upgrading. The Conversion theme also studies the production of high value bioproducts to allow for economic biorefinery operation.
The research in this theme will address the critical issues of combustion and emission properties for the newly developed biofuels and investigate the associated impacts on both current and future engine technologies.
The Utilization theme is focused on the performance of advanced biofuels in engines, including power generation, and effects on engine performance and emissions.
BioFuelNet recognizes that new fuels must not generate new sustainability issues by producing novel and challenging emissions. Traces of certain contaminants in biofuels can lead to enhanced engine fouling, cause engine failure and invalidate warrantees.
The research within the Utilization theme will enable new biofuels to be validated for use in automotive, aircraft and power generation applications.
SEES (Social, Economic and Environmental Sustainability) informing the full value-chain regarding broader aspects of sustainability.
The SEES theme will perform both impact assessments (which consider the economic, social, and environmental impacts of technology), and life-cycle assessments (which calculate net energy consumption and emissions for various processes).
The SEES theme utilizes the regional platforms and their associated value chains as case studies. Projects focused on policy assessment and knowledge transfer are also included in this theme to provide appropriate tools for interpreting the results of BioFuelNet’s technologies, and ultimately to provide strategic assessment and recommendations to government and industry.