Biomass conversion technologies

Adams, P., Bridgwater, T., Lea-Langton, A., Ross, A. and Watson, I. (2017) Biomass conversion technologies. In: Thornley, P. and Adams, P. (eds.) Greenhouse Gases Balances of Bioenergy Systems. Academic Press, pp. 107-139. ISBN 9780081010365 (doi:10.1016/B978-0-08-101036-5.00008-2)

Full text not currently available from Enlighten.

Publisher's URL:


Biomass can be converted into several useful forms of energy using different processes (conversion technologies) which are described in this chapter. Bioenergy is the term used to describe energy derived from biomass feedstocks. Several processing steps are required to convert raw biomass into useful energy using the three main process technologies available: bio-chemical, thermo-chemical, and physio-chemical. Bio-chemical conversion encompasses two primary process options: anaerobic digestion (to biogas) and fermentation (to ethanol). For the thermo-chemical conversion routes, the four main process options presented here are pyrolysis, gasification, combustion, and hydrothermal processing. Physio-chemical conversion consists principally of extraction (with esterification) where oilseeds are crushed to extract oil. Bioenergy consists of solid, liquid, or gaseous fuels which can be obtained from the available technologies. Liquid fuels are commonly used in transportation vehicles, but can also be used in stationary engines. Solid fuels are directly combusted to obtain heat, power, or CHP. Gaseous fuels can be applied to the full range of end-uses. Several factors affect the choice of conversion process including the type, quantity, and characteristics of biomass feedstock, end-use requirements, environmental regulations, economics, location, and project-specific factors. It is the form in which the energy is required and feedstock availability determines the process route. How biomass conversion technologies are implemented and operated will affect the GHG emissions that may arise from their use. This chapter therefore outlines the main conversion technologies available to provide an overview of where potential GHG emissions may arise and to provide references to more detailed GHG assessments. Since there are a wide variety of feedstocks, pre-processing, processing, and end-use options available, here we provide context to the LCA practitioner of the considerations of emissions sources from the different biomass conversion pathways.

Item Type:Book Sections
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Watson, Dr Ian
Authors: Adams, P., Bridgwater, T., Lea-Langton, A., Ross, A., and Watson, I.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Systems Power and Energy
Publisher:Academic Press

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record