Converting biomass to a liquid biofuel

Willow short rotation coppiceIn addition to woody energy crops, two other crops – the grass Miscanthus and oilseed rape – are introduced here for comparative purposes and because potentially they could be a major component of liquid biofuel production.

Theoretically any plant material may be used to produce bioenergy, but those grown specifically for the purpose produce large volumes of biomass and have high energy potential. The most common crops grown in the UK for bioenergy are poplar and willow short rotation coppice (shown in picture) and the grass Miscanthus .

Biofuels are most commonly discussed in the context of solid fuels, however solid biomass can be converted into a number of liquid fuels, including:

  • Bioethanol
    Ethanol is mainly of interest as a petrol additive or substitute. Both synthetic ethanol and bioethanol are suitable for fuel use.
  • Biodiesel
    This is a fuel that performs like a mineral diesel, or derv, but is derived from a renewable energy source.
  • Bio-oil
    This can be used as a liquid fuel in engines and turbines for power generation and combined heat and power (CHP) installations. Bio-oil can also be used in boilers for heating and in a variety of chemical applications as a substitute for synthetic fossil fuel-derived products.

What's of interest

This is a selection of the respective information in the Woodfuel Information Pack. The full pack comprises fact sheets giving more extensive information.