Biomass could be an important source of clean, sustainable transportation fuels, power and other consumer bioproducts. INL’s Bioenergy Technologies Department in the Clean Energy and Transportation Division develops technologies through applied science and engineering that support the expansion of the U.S. bioeconomy.
INL is the leading authority on bioenergy. Specifically, INL’s research is focused on addressing barriers associated with efficiently, economically, and sustainably supplying large quantities of quality feedstock to future biorefineries. This effort includes (but is not limited to) improving feedstock preprocessing technologies, understanding feedstock variability and its implications on conversion processes, feedstock supply system design and analysis, and at-scale equipment testing and design. Those efforts include partnerships with other National Labs, industry, and academia, and contribute to the vision of a nationwide, commodity-scale bioenergy feedstock supply system.
The lab’s work applies science and engineering from laboratory-scale applied science to bench-scale prototyping to pilot-scale testing and demonstration.
INL’s Bioenergy Technologies Department has provided technical support to more than a dozen leading bioenergy companies through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Biomass Feedstock National User Facility (BFNUF), which is housed at INL. In addition to industry partners, the Bioenergy Technologies Department partners with universities and national labs.
BFNUF’s primary capability is the Process Demonstration Unit (PDU), a full-size, fully-integrated feedstock preprocessing system. The PDU allows industry partners to test a variety of size reduction, drying (including torrefaction), densification, and mechanical and chemical separation equipment either alone or in series with other pieces of equipment.
BFNUF’s in-house Bioenergy Feedstock Characterization Laboratory provides a means to characterize feedstock quality attributes using standardized, repeatable laboratory techniques. Advanced capabilities include sample preparation, characterization, storage performance analysis and informing conversion performance.
The Bioenergy Feedstock Library enables researchers and industry to evaluate and track feedstock quality characteristics and formulation with an extensive digital and physical repository. The library provides a mechanism to track the relationship between various operations on a given biomass sample, and to study the impact of quality on conversion performance.
BFNUF researchers also work with the broader INL research team to develop feasibility studies, techno-economic assessments, characterization of biomass resources and supply chain design.