Charting a pathway to next-gen biofuels

Written by
Colton Poore, Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment
June 14, 2024

From soil to sequestration, researchers at Princeton University and the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center have modeled what a supply chain for second-generation biofuels might look like in the midwestern United States.

These next-generation biofuels are emerging as a more sustainable substitute for fossil fuel-derived gasoline and diesel that, if carefully managed, could remove more greenhouse gases from the atmosphere than they emit over the course of their lifecycle. And unlike conventional or first-generation biofuels, which are produced from crops like corn and sugarcane that could otherwise be used for food, second-generation biofuels are derived from agricultural waste or non-food crops grown on low productivity or recently abandoned land.

“What we’re doing with this study is bringing together two different approaches to studying biofuels,” said Christos Maravelias, the Anderson Family Professor of Energy and the Environment and professor of chemical and biological engineering. “A lot of high-quality data at fine spatial scales went into our analyses, giving us a much more holistic view of these systems.”

The Princeton study unites the two perspectives to provide a more comprehensive forecast of a supply chain for biofuels across an eight-state region in the Midwest, grounded in highly detailed data. Their findings were published May 22 in Nature Energy.

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