New Modeling Tool for Optimizing Biofuels Production

The Science

Many feedstocks and conversion options are available to produce biofuels. DOE’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) has developed a new publicly available model to evaluate the relative advantages of various biofuel production approaches. The model includes the flow of materials from feedstocks leaving the farm through finished products leaving the biorefinery. It tracks the use of heat, power, and raw materials and predicts costs as well as energy and material balances. A preliminary, traditional scenario involving corn stover as feedstock, acid pretreatment, and conversion to ethanol using yeast engineered to ferment five and six carbon sugars is the basis of comparison. The model facilitates input from the user community to provide suggestions and modify assumptions. JBEI is using the model to guide its research emphasis. For example, the model predicts that acetate produced during fermentation could limit ethanol production more than the accumulation of ethanol suggesting that feedstocks and feedstock processing should be optimized to reduce acetylation.

BER Program Manager

Dawn Adin

U.S. Department of Energy, Biological and Environmental Research (SC-33)
Biological Systems Science Division
[email protected]


Klein-Marcuschamer, P. Oleskowicz-Popiel, B. A. Simmons, and H. W. Blanch. 2010. “Technoeconomic Analysis of Biofuels: A Wiki-Based Platform for Lignocellulosic Biorefineries,” Biomass and Bioenergy 34(12), 1914–21. DOI:10:1016/j.biombioe.2010.07.033.