IEA Bioenergy operates within the IEA energy technology and R&D collaboration programme. This programme facilitates co-operation among IEA Member and non-Member countries to develop new and improved energy technologies and introduce them into the market. Activities are set up under Technology Collaboration Programmes (TCPs) which provide the legal mechanisms for establishing the commitments of the Contracting Parties and the management structure to guide the activity. Contracting Parties can be government organisations or private entities designated by their governments.

This work developed energy balances and GHG emission profiles for as many advanced biofuel pathways as data could be found for. The Task 39 advanced biofuel demo plant database has been used to identify fuel pathways that could be studied. The plants identified were researched for information to establish energy balance and GHG emissions.

A number of known pathways with sufficient public information were included in the analysis and report. These include:

  • Ethanol from a biochemical process using agricultural residues.
  • Ethanol from a thermochemical process using woody biomass.
  • FT Distillate via a thermochemical process using woody biomass.
  • DME via a thermochemical process using woody biomass.
  • Ethanol from hybrid (biochemical and thermochemical) approaches.
  • Gasoline and diesel fuels via pyrolysis routes.

The US National Advanced Biofuels Consortium is investigating six process strategies for producing hydrocarbon biofuels. Mass and energy balances for these strategies have been estimated or projected and used in this analysis. These process strategies include:

  • Fermentation of lignocellulosic sugars
  • Catalysis of lignocellulosic sugars
  • Catalytic fast pyrolysis
  • Hydropyrolysis
  • Hydrothermal liquefaction
  • Syngas to distillates.