Introduction to Processing Feedstocks into Biofuels

Processing Biodiesel
From feedstock to fuel. Photos: D.Ciolkosz, M.Szala, Biodiesel Ed at U Idah. CC license

Biomass is transformed into solid & liquid fuels, gas, electricity and heat using a variety of processing methods and equipment.



One of the main barriers to a successful biomass energy industry is the simple fact that most raw biomass is not immediately useful as an …

Daniel Ciolkosz, Penn State

Dr. Ciolkosz is a research and extension associate in Penn State’s Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. He works to develop engineering knowhow that will help Pennsylvania’s farms produce bioenergy and improve energy efficiency. This includes a variety of extension efforts with farmers, business developers, landowners, and biomass end users. The specific work can take on many forms, such as providing technical advice to individuals, hosting advanced bioenergy short courses, editing new books on wood energy, helping schools and other …

Research Summary: Small Scale Biomass Pellet Production Project

Research identifies processes and factors to produce best biomass pellets.

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About The Pelletizing Process

Pelletizer. Photo: Dan Ciolkosz, Penn State U.

Pelletizing biomass is a multi-step process. Each of these steps must be done properly if you want a high quality final product:

  • Feed Stock

Introduction to Biomass Combustion

Combustion of biomass used to heat greenhouses.

Fire, or combustion of biomass, is arguably the oldest known and most widely used controllable energy source on earth. In recent years, rising costs of fossil fuels and the development of advanced equipment have made biomass combustion an economical, efficient, and practical energy source.

Principles of Combustion

Combustion is familiar to all of us, but many do not realize that it is essentially a chemical reaction. In the process of combustion, two ingredients …

Using Combustion Heat for Energy

The end result of combustion is useful energy – typically in the form of heat, power, or both heat and power. This can be used to provide space heating for buildings, process heating for industrial needs, electricity for on-site use or sale to the grid, or the simultaneous generation of heat and electricity (so called “combined heat and power,” or CHP). Most commonly, the combustion heat is captured in the form of hot water, hot air or steam.

Most farms …

Biomass Feedstocks for Combustion

Thought about growing a biomass crop for combustion fuel on your farm? This article offers three questions farmers can ask to evaluate growing energy producing  combustion crops. It examines wood, woody crops and grasses in more detail.

Play button  Find these topics and many other related Farm Energy media resources at the Farm Energy Media archive.

Switchgrass briquettes a combustion fuel. Photo: Daniel Ciolkosz, Extension Associate, Penn State.


Processing Biomass for Combustion

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Unprocessed biomass comes in a variety of sizes, shapes and other properties, ranging from a gooey puddle of microscopic algae to the massive trunk of a large oak tree. If any feedstock is to be used effectively for combustion, it usually needs some form of processing to ensure that it is suitable for effective use in combustion equipment. The most common types …

How Much Heat Does BioFuel Have?

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There is no simple, single number, useful for all situations, to calculate the amount of energy in a fuel.
When biomass (or any fuel) is combusted, the products are heat, carbon dioxide, ash and water vapor. Hot water vapor, formed as part of the combustion reaction, has quite a …

Processing Biomass Into Biogas

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Anaerobic Digestion of Animal Manures: Understanding the Basic Processes

Introduction to Farm Building Energy and Conservation

Tunnel Vent Barn with ridge vent. Photo by Dan Ciolkosz.

Agricultural buildings are very important to the successful operation of farms and ranches, and they deserve careful attention when it comes to managing energy expenses. The best time to incorporate energy efficiency that will yield the highest savings and the lowest operating costs is during the design and construction phase. Unfortunately, energy efficiency is often ignored when farm buildings are constructed. Energy efficient building design involves the selection of …