Keywords: alcohol, ethanol, methanol, production, fermentation, gasification, liquid fuels, biofuels, woody biomass, bioenergy, renewable energy, energy profit ratio
The feasibility of producing alcohol fuels from biomass in Australia
Apart from cost, the net production of energy is the most important factor in evaluating the feasibility of producing renewable fuels from woody biomass. Unlike sugar, the effort required to make woody materials fermentable is considerable, and has been a major barrier to the use of such materials to produce renewable fuels. The Energy Profit Ratio (EPR) of fossil fuels is declining rapidly as conventional oil resources decline, but the EPR of biomass fuels is often not as high as commonly thought. I conclude that producing methanol from wood not only has a much higher yield, but is also cheaper than the more popular ethanol.