April 7, 2007

BIOoutput 101: The BioTown Sourcebook

For anyone who desires a simple introduction to the current range of potential BIOoutput products, I suggest a careful reading of a brief technical overview document called The BioTown, USA Sourcebook of Biomass Energy (released in April, 2006). It was written for the Indiana State Department of Agriculture by scientist and fellow blogger, Mark Jenner, PhD. who has his own website called Biomass Rules.

Below you can see an overview graphic that charts where bioconversion products (highlighted in blue) fall in proper context for addressing BIOstock, BIOconversion, and BIOwaste issues. For this reason, I offer a similar 101 abstract treatment in each of my BlogRing blogs.

This BioTown sourcebook is the official inventory on local energy use, available biomass fuels and emerging technologies for Reynolds, Indiana. As such, it can serve as an inventory template for any similarly focused study of a medium-sized rural community. It greater importance is its microcosmic view of rural communities as decentralized, sustainable entities that possess more than enough biomass to service their own energy needs.

Part of the report is devoted to an accounting of the existing energy demand in BioTown: transportation fuels, electricity, and natural gas. As the author states:

The bottom line is that as the cost of fossil fuel-derived energy continues to roughly double every five years, the value of biomass energy makes excellent economic sense. Agricultural commodity prices have remained competitively low for decades. Historically, if the supply of corn, beans, or even hogs is below demand, more are grown the next year – keeping commodity prices low.

At right is a broad "list of product categories from the Guidelines for Designating Biobased Products for Federal Procurement" drafted in 2003 (click to enlarge). "This federal rule-making process was part of a federal policy to procure supplies that made from bio-based material and meet specific criteria." Those criteria are spelled out as percentages of minimum biobased content necessary to qualify. It demonstrates the incredibly broad range of applications the output of bioconversion processes can be applied to.

This report is not a utopian call to return to rural, communal living. It is, instead, an affirmation that there are many biomass resources available and technologies in development to provide environmentally clean bioenergy alternatives to the existing fossil fuel energy paradigm. Rural communities can develop expertise and marketable output best suited to their own resources and industries. Urban communities can develop some technologies that are relevant to the diversion of trash from landfills.

The BioTown, USA Sourcebook of Biomass Energy

BioTown, USA is Indiana Governor, Mitch Daniel’s, bold approach to develop local renewable energy production, create a cleaner environment, find new solutions to municipal/animal waste issues, and develop new markets for Indiana products – all at the same time. BioTown, USA is quite simply the conversion of Reynolds, Indiana from a reliance on fossil fuels to biomass-based fuels. With the implementation of BioTown, USA, a template will be set that simultaneously promotes Indiana energy security, rural development, profitable agriculture and a green, thriving natural resource environment.

The only conclusion that can be made is that BioTown, USA is profoundly thermodynamically and technologically viable. Reynolds, Indiana used 227,710 million BTUs (MMBTU) in 2005. White County annually produces over 16,881,613 MMBTU in undeveloped biomass energy resources. That is 74 times more energy than Reynolds consumed in 2005.

BioTown, USA is a concept whose time has come. This Sourcebook and subsequent BioTown reports will serve as vital stepping stones to the implementation of BioTown, USA and subsequent bioeconomic rural development opportunities across Indiana and the nation.

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