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The Biomass Economy and Nebraska’s Role

“The 20th century was the century of the petrochemical economy. Gasoline and diesel — made from petroleum — power almost all our vehicles. Myriad plastics made from petroleum or natural gas are used to make our clothes, carpets, food packaging and increasingly, our car parts and building materials. Most of our chemicals and even toiletries and pharmaceuticals are petrochemically derived.

“Unfortunately for the United States, most of the world’s petroleum is located elsewhere so we import more than half of what we use, creating heavy economic and security burdens. And unfortunately for the world, whenever gasoline, diesel and other fossil fuels are burned, they release carbon dioxide that had been locked up underground for millions of years, increasing greenhouse gas levels.

“In the 21st century, use of biomass — plants and plant-based materials, produced by photosynthesis within biological rather than geologic time — will offset this petrochemical dependence.”

— Excerpt from “The Biomass Economy”

Two recent additions to the Energy Office’s biomass section of its web site may offer a glimpse at what type of role the state could have in a biomass-based economy of tomorrow.
  • “The Biomass Economy” from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. This four-page overview highlights the work of the National Bioenergy Center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado and summarizes the work underway in the six different core technologies that might comprise a biomass-based economy:
    • Sugar-Lignin
    • Syngas
    • Bio-Oil
    • Biogas
    • Carbon-rich Chains
    • Plant Products
  • Nebraska Biomass Homepage at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. This new web site is documenting the process used to create a biomass roadmap for Nebraska. In essence, the roadmap will chart — and solicit information and participation — a course for the state to focus development of the ample biomass resources it has.
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