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DOE Releases Biomass Report


The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has released the 2023 Billion-Ton Report.  This document suggests that approximately one billion tons of biomass comprising both corn and wood products could be used to satisfy 2050 demand for aviation fuel. The DOE report suggests that corn would represent 150 million tons of the biomass contribution annually, supplemented by 40 million tons of wood products that could be combusted to produce power and 40 million tons of gas from landfill.


The problem with the projection is that there does not appear to be a financially viable process to convert wood and high-fiber products to fuel.  Fermentation technology is currently used to convert approximately one-third of the corn crop to ethanol to dilute gasoline at an average level of ten percent. Conversion of high lignin biomass to a combustible fuel has yet to become an economic reality despite billions invested in developing the technology that has yet to produce a commercial operational plant. 

With respect to power generation, it is evident that nuclear represents the most promising source of electrical power given available technology including renewables. Expansion of nuclear energy generation will require a major overhaul of permitting and above all safe disposal of nuclear waste.


The report essentially bundles together existing corn ethanol and the prospect of using wood material from forests and agricultural residues. Tantalizing, but questionable in execution.