FPL Works to Support Advanced Biofuels and Biorefineries

As national concerns about the multiple uses for our forests increase and international concerns over global warming and greenhouse-gas generation also rise, governmental support for biological fuels is likely to increase.

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FPL research has helped advance technology to convert woody biomass to ethanol.

New technologies are needed to derive transportation fuels and valuable chemicals from wood and FPL has a strong history of handling and treating wood through multidisciplinary efforts.

Experts in wood structure, wood chemistry, microbiology, enzyme technology, chemical engineering, and economics work together to promote the use of sustainable, bio-based, environmentally neutral technologies. This research advances the use of lignocellulose (materials such as wood flakes, particles, and fiber) as a raw material for transportation fuel and other biochemicals.

FPL researchers use advanced microbiology and chemistry laboratories in the Centennial Research Facility to help increase processing efficiency and profitability for biorefineries. In 2012, the U.S. Forest Service awarded nearly $4 million in grants for wood energy projects around the country to help expand regional economies and create new jobs. These grants are managed by the FPL Forest Products Marketing Unit.

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Biorefineries can use previously under-valued wood from forest restoration projects to produce energy.

Through its work on bioenergy and biofuels, the FPL addresses several developments:

  • Pretreatments that make more cellulose available for enzymatic saccharification or to derive value from lignin
  • Value from resistant (recalcitrant) cellulose
  • Co-production of specialty chemicals with greater value than ethanol and paper pulp
  • Improved gasification with less char and a higher energy yield
  • Transportation fuels and higher value chemicals from producer gas
  • Ways to integrate ethanol production with pulping and composite products
  • Enzyme modeling, life cycle assessment, and biomass case development
  • Greenhouse gas modeling

FPL’s work in biorefining:

  • Promotes sustainable development
  • Moves the U.S. toward energy independence
  • Mitigates climate change
  • Supports local economies, and
  • Promotes sustainability of natural resource production and use.