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ES97B - Bioenergy and Biotechnology

(15 Credits)

Aims: To impart a deep understanding of the principles of modern bioenergy and biotechnologies, including biofuels from a variety of sources, biomass chemistry and treatment, conversion of biomass and ethical and practical considerations. Students will gain a through understanding of the potential for sustainable biotechnologies for power production as well as the fundamental principles underlying biomass formation/production and energy conversion.

Learning Outcomes: Upon completion, students will be able to:

Demonstrate an advanced understanding of biomass chemistry and a detailed knowledge of different types of biomass for modern biotechnology applications. Critically evaluate the suitability and feasibility of biofuels for a given application.

Understand the physical treatment and handling of biomass using advanced modern methods. Understand complex thermal biomass conversion processes, including gasification, combustion, pyrolysis and liquefaction.

Perform detailed analyses of the complex underlying principles of biochemical biomass conversion, including biogas and biofuel production from various sources. Perform economic analyses and critically assess the impact on the environment of biomass production and use.

Demonstrate a deep understanding of the modern biorefinery concept, including process such as hydrolysis of biomass, biobased fuel additives, lignin conversion and levulinic acid and furfural conversion.

Understand logistical and ethical considerations in the context of the environment and be able to critically assess the feasibility of biorefineries based on logistical and
environmental constraints.

Outline Syllabus:

Renewable energy technologies

Economic and societal background
Energy consumption, reserves, depletion and environmental issues
Life cycle analysis of biofuels


Biomass chemistry
Lignocellulose and Starch-Based Plants, Triglyceride-Producing Plants, Algae,
Terpenes and Rubber-Producing Plants
Forestry residues, agricultural waste
Municipal, commercial and industrial waste

Physical treatment of biomass

Harvesting and transport, logistics, storage, washing, size reduction, moisture reduction, compaction technologies, pre-treatment steps.

Thermal biomass conversion
Biomass gasification
Gasification chemistry, gasification of dry and wet biomass, gas conditioning, syn-gas utilization.
Biomass combustion
Equipment and applications
Pyrolysis and Liquefaction
Fast pyrolysis, kinetics of pyrolysis
Bio oil upgrading


Biochemical biomass conversion
Biogas production by microbial processes
Anerobic digestion, microbial hydrogen production
Biofuels from microalgea and seaweeds
Technologies, economic analysis, environmental impact
Biodiesel from vegetable oils
Transesterification process, glycerol utilization
Aqueous phase reforming


Biorefinery concept
Hydrolysis of biomass for sugar monomer production
Platform molecules and their conversion into biobased fuel additives
Lignin conversion
Levulinic acid and furfural conversion

Illustrative Bibliography
1. Introduction to Chemicals from Biomass, James H. Clark, Fabien Deswarte, John Wiley & Sons, 2014.
2. Catalysis for Renewables: From Feedstock to Energy Production, Gabriele Centi, Rutger A. van Santen (Eds.), Wiley, 2008.
3. Biomass Gasifiation and Pyrolysis Practical Design and Theory, Prabir Basu, Elsevier, 2010.
4. Biogas from Waste and Renewable Resources, Dieter Deublein and Angelika Steinhauser (Eds.), Wiley, 2008
5. Thermochemical Processing of Biomass: Conversion into Fuels, Chemicals and Power, Robert C. Brown, John Wiley & Sons, 2011.
6. Biorefinery: From Biomass to Chemicals and Fuels, Michele Aresta, Angela Dibenedetto, Franck Dumeignil, de Gruyter, 2012.