UT Center, Genera Energy Continue Quest for Low-cost, High-quality Bioenergy

DOE-funded project to study production, processing logistics

KNOXVILLE, TENN. March 21, 2016 – Gasoline and other petroleum-based products are affordable – today – but such was not the case just a few short years ago, and higher prices will likely return in the future. That’s one reason why scientists with the University of Tennessee Center for Renewable Carbon (CRC) continue efforts to develop renewable and cost-competitive biofuels and bio-based products that can be useful for society and to advance rural economies.

The CRC is the lead institution in a $4 million study funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Bioenergy Technologies Office that will allow the CRC and its partners to explore in greater detail some feedstock supply and logistical issues. Partners in the broad-based effort include Auburn University, North Carolina State University and the Idaho National Laboratory. Industry partners Genera Energy, PerkinElmer and Herty Advanced Materials Development Center are all providing guidance regarding the commercial implementation of the harvesting, pre-preprocessing and refining technologies.

“Biorefineries need a guaranteed supply chain, and the research seeks to determine if blending feedstocks could play a role in increasing the performance of feedstock available to biorefineries while lowering the cost,” said Tim Rials, project leader and CRC director. The project is also expected to develop and demonstrate a state-of-the-art biomass processing depot to reduce sources of variation along the supply chain of multiple, high-impact biomass sources and to deliver a consistent feedstock optimized for conversion in different platforms.

Rials says the synergy between the partners and the research infrastructure established by this large project is key to long-term success. “Developing biofuels and bio-based products requires solving a complicated set of