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Special Issue "Sustainable Use of Biomass Energy"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Use of the Environment and Resources".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2015)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Susan Krumdieck

Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, New Zealand
E-Mail
Phone: +64 3 364 2987
Interests: transportation; peak oil asset planning and risk analysis; travel behaviour adaptive capacity electricity supply sustainability; remote power systems; demand response geothermal transition engineering for emerging sustainability
Guest Editor
Dr. Deepak Pant

Separation and Conversion Technology, VITO – Flemish Institute for Technological Research, Boeretang 200, Mol 2400, Belgium
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +3214336969
Interests: microbial electrosynthesis; enzymatic electrosynthesis; carbon dioxide conversion to chemicals; bioelectrochemistry; microbial fuel cell (MFC); industrial wastewater treatment; bioenergy from biomass; biowaste valorization

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The production trajectory of fossil resources is understood to be in decline due to climate change mitigation requirements and the depletion of economically exploitable reserves.  Biomass has always been a fundamentally important fuel, and remains the basis of energy systems for more than half of the world’s people. Industrial uses of biomass and biowaste for energy include fuel crops, wood waste, agricultural residues, municipal solid wastes, sewage sludge, and food wastes.  Combined waste management and energy production values improve the prospects for biomass utilization.  However, the sustainability of biomass energy conversion is a complex issue, dependent on the entire energy chain, from natural resources to energy conversion technologies, from pollution and end use, to demand.

This Special Issue seeks to collect together scientific, engineering, ecological, economic, and social research on the issues, risks, and real potential for biomass and biowaste as sustainable energy resources. There are many papers written about aspects of biomass energy potential and technology. This Special Issue will provide a platform for comprehensive discussions concerning the transition of the current fossil fuel energy systems, and the roles for biomass in that transition.

We already know that most of the world's population relies on native biomass - wood, grass or dung are utilized as fuel to meet daily needs. Consequently, the impact of management practices and industrialization on these systems needs to be explored. We already know that the profligate use of fossil fuels is not sustainable, and the relevance of biofuel for the way we use fossil fuels must be understood. The energy returns on the energy invested for biomass are critical, and we need a better understanding of the implications on the economy and society. Biomass for energy has major implications on water, land, and nutrient systems, and careful modeling methods, along with international case studies, must be shared for the science and engineering fields to contribute to the energy transition.

This Special Issue aims to take a very hard look at the prospects of biomass being able to meet demands derived from fossil carbon. The most welcome research papers will discuss the projects of transition of current fossil-based energy systems to ones that could sustainably use biomass resources. Biomass and biowaste energy vectors, such as bioethanol, bio-oil, biodiesel, biohydrogen, and bioelectricity from biowastes and biomass will be considered. Papers concerning the transition of end uses, economics, policy, and resource management research will be welcomed.

Prof. Dr. Susan Krumdieck
Dr. Deepak Pant
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


Keywords

  • sustainable biomass use rates
  • bioenergy processes and utilization
  • diffuse resource and collection issues
  • diffuse resource and collection issues
  • biomass policies
  • energy return on energy invested (EROI, EREOI)
  • bioelectrochemical Systems/Microbial fuel cells
  • energy flow chain
  • bioenergy systems integration
  • biomass and biowaste feedback
  • biomass and biowaste conversion technologies
  • biowaste treatment and valorization
  • water use
  • soil, mineral and land requirements
  • environmental issues
  • health, social and economic wellbein
  • food vs fuel

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Sustainability Frames in the Context of the Energy Wood Conflict in Germany
Sustainability 2015, 7(11), 14501-14520; doi:10.3390/su71114501
Received: 14 July 2015 / Revised: 21 October 2015 / Accepted: 22 October 2015 / Published: 29 October 2015
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (723 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Interpretations of the concept of sustainability vary substantially in relation to forests and their management, and they are usually present in conflicts about forest use. In this article, we consider underlying interests relating to conflicts of forest use as a given. Our aim
[...] Read more.
Interpretations of the concept of sustainability vary substantially in relation to forests and their management, and they are usually present in conflicts about forest use. In this article, we consider underlying interests relating to conflicts of forest use as a given. Our aim is therefore not to reveal those interests, but rather to explore understandings of sustainability hiding behind them—sustainability frames. To this end, we use frame theory to investigate the following research question: How are different sustainability frames of interest groups reflected in a forest use conflict situation in Germany? The energy wood conflict serves as the example for our research, as it is currently the most prominent forest management conflict in Germany. Using 12 stakeholder interviews within three interest groups as the empirical data basis, it becomes clear that sustainability understandings reflect particular positionings in conflicts, or vice versa. In the energy wood conflict, the classic dichotomy between forestry and conservation groups becomes a trichotomy in which the forestry group splits into an interest group that profits from energy wood production and one that competes with it. We suggest that sustainability understandings do not represent worldviews that guide how actors understand conflicts, but rather that they are shaped according to actors’ particular interests in conflicts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Use of Biomass Energy)
Open AccessArticle Emergy Evaluation of Different Straw Reuse Technologies in Northeast China
Sustainability 2015, 7(9), 11360-11377; doi:10.3390/su70911360
Received: 8 July 2015 / Revised: 7 August 2015 / Accepted: 13 August 2015 / Published: 25 August 2015
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (1265 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Open burning of straw in China has degraded agricultural environments and has become a contributor to air pollution. Development of efficient straw-reuse technologies not only can yield economic benefits but also can protect the environment and can provide greater benefit to society. Thus,
[...] Read more.
Open burning of straw in China has degraded agricultural environments and has become a contributor to air pollution. Development of efficient straw-reuse technologies not only can yield economic benefits but also can protect the environment and can provide greater benefit to society. Thus, the overall benefits of straw-reuse technologies must be considered when making regional development planning and enterprise technology decisions. In addition, agricultural areas in China cross several climatic zones and have different weather characteristics and cultural conditions. In the present study, we assessed five types of straw-reuse technologies (straw-biogas production, -briquetting, -based power generation, -gasification, and -bioethanol production), using emergy analysis, in northeast China. Within each type, five individual cases were investigated, and the highest-performing cases were used for comparison across technologies. Emergy indices for comprehensive benefits for each category, namely, EYR, ELR, and ESI were calculated. Calculated indices suggest that straw-briquetting and -biogas production are the most beneficial technologies in terms of economy, environmental impact, and sustainability compared to straw-based power generation, -gasification, and -bioethanol production technologies. These two technologies can thus be considered the most suitable for straw reuse in China. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Use of Biomass Energy)
Open AccessArticle Influence of Sowing Times, Densities, and Soils to Biomass and Ethanol Yield of Sweet Sorghum
Sustainability 2015, 7(9), 11657-11678; doi:10.3390/su70911657
Received: 2 May 2015 / Revised: 19 July 2015 / Accepted: 27 July 2015 / Published: 25 August 2015
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (718 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The use of biofuels helps to reduce the dependency on fossil fuels and therefore decreases CO2 emission. Ethanol mixed with gasoline in mandatory percentages has been used in many countries. However, production of ethanol mainly depends on food crops, commonly associated with
[...] Read more.
The use of biofuels helps to reduce the dependency on fossil fuels and therefore decreases CO2 emission. Ethanol mixed with gasoline in mandatory percentages has been used in many countries. However, production of ethanol mainly depends on food crops, commonly associated with problems such as governmental policies and social controversies. Sweet sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench) is one of the most potential and appropriate alternative crops for biofuel production because of its high biomass and sugar content, strong tolerance to environmental stress conditions and diseases, and wide adaptability to various soils and climates. The aim of this study was to select prospective varieties of sweet sorghum, optimum sowing times and densities to achieve high yields of ethanol production and to establish stable operational conditions in cultivating this crop. The summer-autumn cropping season combined with the sowing densities of 8.3–10.9 plant m2 obtained the highest ethanol yield. Among cultivated locations, the soil with pH of 5.5 and contents of Al and Zn of 39.4 and 0.6 g kg1, respectively, was the best condition to have an ethanol yield >5000 L ha1. The pH ≥ 6.0 may be responsible for the significant reduction of zinc content in soils, which decreases both biomass of sweet sorghum and ethanol yield, while contents of N, P, K, organic carbon (OC) and cation exchange capacity (CEC), and Fe likely play no role. The cultivar 4A was the preferred candidate for ethanol production and resistant to pests and diseases, especially cut worm (Agrotis spp.). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Use of Biomass Energy)
Open AccessArticle Sustainable and Efficient Pathways for Bioenergy Recovery from Low-Value Process Streams via Bioelectrochemical Systems in Biorefineries
Sustainability 2015, 7(9), 11713-11726; doi:10.3390/su70911713
Received: 18 June 2015 / Revised: 14 August 2015 / Accepted: 19 August 2015 / Published: 25 August 2015
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (2182 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Conversion of biomass into bioenergy is possible via multiple pathways resulting in the production of biofuels, bioproducts, and biopower. Efficient and sustainable conversion of biomass, however, requires consideration of many environmental and societal parameters in order to minimize negative impacts. Integration of multiple
[...] Read more.
Conversion of biomass into bioenergy is possible via multiple pathways resulting in the production of biofuels, bioproducts, and biopower. Efficient and sustainable conversion of biomass, however, requires consideration of many environmental and societal parameters in order to minimize negative impacts. Integration of multiple conversion technologies and inclusion of upcoming alternatives, such as bioelectrochemical systems, can minimize these impacts via production of hydrogen, electricity or other forms of energy from the low value streams and improve conservation of resources, such as water and nutrients via recycle and reuse. This report outlines alternate pathways integrating microbial electrolysis in biorefinery schemes to improve energy efficiency, while evaluating environmental sustainability parameters. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Use of Biomass Energy)
Open AccessArticle Integrated Bioenergy and Food Production—A German Survey on Structure and Developments of Anaerobic Digestion in Organic Farming Systems
Sustainability 2015, 7(8), 10709-10732; doi:10.3390/su70810709
Received: 1 June 2015 / Revised: 10 July 2015 / Accepted: 28 July 2015 / Published: 7 August 2015
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (778 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Rising global energy needs and limited fossil fuel reserves have led to increased use of renewable energies. In Germany, this has entailed massive exploitation of agricultural biomass for biogas generation, associated with unsustainable farming practices. Organic agriculture not only reduces negative environmental impacts,
[...] Read more.
Rising global energy needs and limited fossil fuel reserves have led to increased use of renewable energies. In Germany, this has entailed massive exploitation of agricultural biomass for biogas generation, associated with unsustainable farming practices. Organic agriculture not only reduces negative environmental impacts, organic farmers were also prime movers in anaerobic digestion (AD) in Germany. This study’s aim was to identify the structure, development, and characteristics of biogas production associated with organic farming systems in order to estimate further development, as well as energetic and associated agronomic potentials. Surveys were conducted among organic farms with AD technology. 144 biogas plants could be included in the analysis. Total installed electrical capacity was 30.8 MWel, accounting for only 0.8% of the total installed electrical capacity in the German biogas sector. Recently, larger plant types (>250 kWel) with increased use of (also purchased) energy crops have emerged. Farmers noticed increases in yields (22% on average) and quality of cash crops in arable farming through integrated biogas production. In conclusion, although the share of AD in organic farming is relatively small it can provide various complementary socio-ecological benefits such as the enhancement of food output through digestate fertilization without additional need for land, while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions from livestock manures and soils. However, to achieve this eco-functional intensification, AD systems and their management have to be well adapted to farm size and production focus and based primarily on residue biomass. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Use of Biomass Energy)
Open AccessArticle Corn Stover Nutrient Removal Estimates for Central Iowa, USA
Sustainability 2015, 7(7), 8621-8634; doi:10.3390/su7078621
Received: 29 May 2015 / Revised: 26 June 2015 / Accepted: 29 June 2015 / Published: 2 July 2015
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (164 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
One of the most frequent producer-asked questions to those persons striving to secure sustainable corn (Zea mays L.) stover feedstock supplies for Iowa’s new bioenergy conversion or other bio-product facilities is “what quantity of nutrients will be removed if I harvest my
[...] Read more.
One of the most frequent producer-asked questions to those persons striving to secure sustainable corn (Zea mays L.) stover feedstock supplies for Iowa’s new bioenergy conversion or other bio-product facilities is “what quantity of nutrients will be removed if I harvest my stover?” Our objective is to summarize six years of field research from central Iowa, U.S.A. where more than 600, 1.5 m2 samples were collected by hand and divided into four plant fractions: vegetative material from the ear shank upward (top), vegetative material from approximately 10 cm above the soil surface to just below the ear (bottom), cobs, and grain. Another 400 stover samples, representing the vegetative material collected directly from a single-pass combine harvesting system or from stover bales were also collected and analyzed. All samples were dried, ground, and analyzed to determine C, N, P, K, Ca, Mg, S, Al, B, Cu, Fe, Mn, and Zn concentrations. Mean concentration and dry matter estimates for each sample were used to calculate nutrient removal and estimate fertilizer replacement costs which averaged $25.06, $20.04, $16.62, $19.40, and $27.41 Mg−1 for top, bottom, cob, stover, and grain fractions, respectively. We then used the plant fraction estimates to compare various stover harvest scenarios and provide an answer to the producer question posed above. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Use of Biomass Energy)
Open AccessArticle A Comparative Study of Fouling and Bottom Ash from Woody Biomass Combustion in a Fixed-Bed Small-Scale Boiler and Evaluation of the Analytical Techniques Used
Sustainability 2015, 7(5), 5819-5837; doi:10.3390/su7055819
Received: 30 January 2015 / Revised: 3 May 2015 / Accepted: 7 May 2015 / Published: 12 May 2015
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (5084 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this work, fouling and bottom ash were collected from a low-power boiler after wood pellet combustion and studied using several analytical techniques to characterize and compare samples from different areas and determine the suitability of the analysis techniques employed. TGA results indicated
[...] Read more.
In this work, fouling and bottom ash were collected from a low-power boiler after wood pellet combustion and studied using several analytical techniques to characterize and compare samples from different areas and determine the suitability of the analysis techniques employed. TGA results indicated that the fouling contained a high amount of organic matter (70%). The XRF and SEM-EDS measurements revealed that Ca and K are the main inorganic elements and exhibit clear tendency in the content of Cl that is negligible in the bottom ash and increased as it penetrated into the innermost layers of the fouling. Calcite, magnesia and silica appeared as the major crystalline phases in all the samples. However, the bottom ash was primarily comprised of calcium silicates. The KCl behaved identically to the Cl, preferably appeared in the adhered fouling samples. This salt, which has a low melting point, condenses upon contact with the low temperature tube and played a crucial role in the early stages of fouling formation. XRD was the most useful technique applied, which provided a semi-quantitative determination of the crystalline phases. FTIR was proven to be inadequate for this type of sample. The XRF and SEM-EDS, techniques yield similar results despite being entirely different. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Use of Biomass Energy)

Review

Jump to: Research

Open AccessReview Sustainability Issues and Opportunities in the Sugar and Sugar-Bioproduct Industries
Sustainability 2015, 7(9), 12209-12235; doi:10.3390/su70912209
Received: 10 July 2015 / Revised: 24 August 2015 / Accepted: 25 August 2015 / Published: 3 September 2015
Cited by 10 | PDF Full-text (3857 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Like many other industries, the sugar and sugar-bioproduct industries are facing important sustainability issues and opportunities. The relatively low and fluctuating profit for sugar, surpluses of sugar, world-wide trend to produce alternative, renewable bio-based fuels and chemicals to those derived from petroleum and
[...] Read more.
Like many other industries, the sugar and sugar-bioproduct industries are facing important sustainability issues and opportunities. The relatively low and fluctuating profit for sugar, surpluses of sugar, world-wide trend to produce alternative, renewable bio-based fuels and chemicals to those derived from petroleum and reduce greenhouse gases, water- and energy-intensive factories and refineries, and increased consumer demands for sustainably manufactured products are putting pressure on the industries to diversify for sustainability. Sugar crops, including sugar and energy cane (Saccharum officinarum), sugar and energy beets (Beta vulgaris), and sweet sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L. Moench), are excellent, renewable biomass feedstocks because of their availability, their being amongst the plants that give the highest yields of carbohydrates per hectare, and high sugar contents. While much research has been focused on conversion technologies for advanced biofuels and bioproducts, attention is now focused on developing sustainable supply chains of sugar feedstocks for the new, flexible biorefineries, with customers wanting maximum feedstock reliability and quality, while minimizing cost. All biomass from sugar crops are potential feedstocks. The cogeneration of bioelectricity from bagasse and leaf residues is being increasingly manufactured in more countries and, due to the high carbon content of bagasse and leaves, can also be converted into value-added products such as biochar. Sugar crops are superior feedstocks for the production of platform chemicals for the manufacture of a range of end-products, e.g., bioplastics, chemicals, and biomaterials. In several countries and regions, green sustainability criteria are now in place and have to be met to count against national biofuel targets. Processes to convert high-fiber sugar crop biomass into biofuel have been developed but there has only been limited commercialization at the large-scale. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Use of Biomass Energy)
Open AccessReview Moving towards a Competitive Fully Enzymatic Biodiesel Process
Sustainability 2015, 7(6), 7884-7903; doi:10.3390/su7067884
Received: 5 May 2015 / Revised: 8 June 2015 / Accepted: 12 June 2015 / Published: 18 June 2015
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (679 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Enzymatic biodiesel synthesis can solve several problems posed by the alkaline-catalyzed transesterification but it has the drawback of being too expensive to be considered competitive. Costs can be reduced by lipase improvement, use of unrefined oils, evaluation of soluble/immobilized lipase preparations, and by
[...] Read more.
Enzymatic biodiesel synthesis can solve several problems posed by the alkaline-catalyzed transesterification but it has the drawback of being too expensive to be considered competitive. Costs can be reduced by lipase improvement, use of unrefined oils, evaluation of soluble/immobilized lipase preparations, and by combination of phospholipases with a soluble lipase for biodiesel production in a single step. As shown here, convenient natural tools have been developed that allow synthesis of high quality FAMEs (EN14214) from unrefined oils in a completely enzymatic single-step process, making it fully competitive. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Use of Biomass Energy)

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