Energy and Climate Change
15 National Conference and Global Forum on Science, Policy and the Environment
January 27-29, 2015
Eric Anderson spoke in a breakout session at the 15th National Conference and Global Forum on Science, Policy and the Environment on The Future of Bio: Beyond Ethanol.
Petroleum serves as a feedstock to a wide range of uses, from transportation fuels to plastics, lubricants and pharmaceuticals. While only 40 percent of a barrel of crude oil is refined into gasoline, past policies to reduce dependence on petroleum through biomass feedstocks have largely resulted in the production of just one fuel, ethanol, which is a relatively low-value commodity that can only replace a fraction of the gasoline market. To truly reduce dependence on petroleum and support a renewable, bio-based economy, focus is now shifting to replacing the entire barrel of crude oil from diverse, non-food biomass resources.
Biomass has long provided food, fuel, fiber and other materials for human consumption. However, recent advances in research and development have led to a variety of new approaches to replacing higher-value petroleum products with biomass feedstocks. From "drop-in" fuels to chemicals and polymers that fit into our existing infrastructure, the bio refining industry has great potential to reduce fossil fuel consumption but is still in its infancy. Major challenges lie ahead in economically collecting, transporting and converting these feedstocks into the products that help drive our economy. This session will highlight progress already made and envisage the future bio economy.