The report, “Finding Feedstocks for the Bio-Based Fuels and Chemicals of Today and 2030,” said today biofuels and biochemicals need more than a billion metric tons of biomass material each year to replace about three percent of total petroleum products. The report predicts that figure will skyrocket to 3.7 billion mt of biomass needed annually by 2030.
Biofuels mandates, which require large masses of sugars, cellulosic biomass and waste feedstocks, will cause several regions will encounter major stress on available biomass, the report said. For instance, the EPA is proposing a 62 percent increase in the amount of cellulosic biofuels that refiners must blend into their gasoline and diesel, despite a federal court’s decision last week to strike down its 2012 standard for the fuel. The chart above shows Lux’s projections for cellulosic feedstock supply and demand. (BBFM stands for “bio-based fuels and materials.”)
This month, the agency proposed the 2013 Renewable Fuel Standards for four fuel categories including biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuels, cellulosic biofuels and total renewable fuels.
Feedstock innovations such as crop modification, new value chain configurations and agronomic technology improvements like irrigation and biosensors can help meet growing demand and take pressure off those regions, said Kalib Kersch, a Lux Research analyst and one of the lead authors of the report.
The report found that municipal solid waste and waste gases like carbon dioxide and flue gas have potential as feedstocks. LanzaTech, which aims to make ethanol and 2,3-butanediol from flue gas, and Fulcrum BioEnergy, which is financing its first MSW gasification facility, are both poised to advance this technology.
The report also said novel logistics methods, like those being developed by companies Sweetwater Energy and BlackGold Biofuels, can lower the cost of meeting biomass demands. Both companies are developing “hub-and-spoke” models to build satellite intermediate conversion facilities that feed into a central processing facility, cutting transportation costs.
Dozens of companies and universities are working on ways to modify crops to cut down on agriculture’s material inputs. For example, BASF, Mendel Biotechnology and Evogene are developing crop strains that provide resistance to drought and pests, or can fix their own nitrogen.