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University of Maine

Sustainability of Biofuels and Bioproducts

 

This research field aims to developing bioproducts and biofuels that create a smaller environmental footprint than conventional fuels throughout their lifecycle, while considering the economic and social implications in producing and consuming the end products. With our research partners, we are investigating the resources, technologies, and systems needed to sustainably produce, harvest, transport, and convert a variety of biomass feedstocks (i.e. wood chips, thinning). In this work, we endeavor to:

 Understand the relationship between biofuel production and all aspects of sustainability, including economic, social, and environmental issues;

 Analyze the whole biofuel supply chains/networks;

 Improve the understanding of climates, soil types, land use, and water issues as they relate to feedstock production in the Northeast region;

 Support the development of diverse, non-food feedstocks that require less resources than conventional feedstocks;

 Foster sustainable forestry practices to enhance forest health and biodiversity;

 Evaluate environmental impacts of emerging biomass conversion technologies and biofuel delivery infrastructure;

 Determine life-cycle impacts of a major scale-up in biofuels production, from feedstocks to end-use in vehicles, addressing land use, habitat preservation, and soil health and impacts on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions;

 Develop quantitative models of land use changes associated with increased biofuels production to be included in life-cycle analyses; and

 Employ standards for biofuel crop production to maintain biodiversity

Current Projects

 

Novel Biomass-based Technologies for Bio-based Economy

Coupling LCA and GIS for Biodiversity Assessment of Forest Resources for Biofuel Production

A Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment of Cellulosic Nanofibers Used in Green Building Materials