CBES LogoThe Center for BioEnergy Sustainability (CBES) is a leading resource for dealing with the environmental impacts and the ultimate sustainability of biomass production for conversion to biofuels and bio-based products. Its purpose is to use science and analysis to understand the sustainability (environmental, economic, and social) of current and potential future bioenergy production and distribution; to identify approaches to enhance bioenergy sustainability; and to serve as an independent source of the highest quality data and analysis for bioenergy stakeholders and decision makers. It focuses on

  • Bioenergy options from a systems perspective
  • Sustainability as a combination of environmental, economic, and social concerns
  • Appropriate scales for addressing bioenergy sustainability concerns
  • Tradeoffs in implications of land-use and land-management decisions
  • Quantifying environmental, economic, and social implications of bioenergy choices at local, regional, and global scales
  • Lignocellulosic feedstock options and their implications for ecosystem services and social and economic benefits
  • Sustainability metrics

Concerns about the social, economic, and environmental effects are driven by the ambitious U.S. goals to displace large portions of consumed petroleum with biofuels in a relatively short time. However, these concerns are not unique to the United States; similar ones have been raised in other countries that have other goals, potential feedstocks, and cropping and conversion systems. As a result, a worldwide need exists for high-quality data on the impacts and sustainability of biofeedstock production and for comprehensive analyses of the production, use, and sustainability of biofuels. CBES provides those data and analyses.

ORNL researchers have been performing analyses of biofeedstock options and have been researching the development of dedicated bioenergy crops for the past 30 years. That research has

  • Fostered understanding of the systems context in which energy decisions are made
  • Evaluated the feasibility and implications of sustainable bioenergy options through field, laboratory, and model experiments 
  • Tested, calibrated, and determined sensitivities and uncertainties of models and their projections
  • Assessed the data used to characterize bioenergy options
  • Communicated scientific results to decision makers

Researchers at ORNL have world-class facilities, capabilities, and tools for the analysis of the production of biofuels and of transportation systems and fuels, including biofuels. Many seminal contributions by these experts (e.g., the Billion Ton Study) have already undergirded decision making at the national and international levels. Over time, CBES will broaden its local, regional, national and global outreach and serve as a key means for ORNL to share its high-quality data and analysis regarding the sustainability of bioenergy with diverse stakeholders and decision makers.

As a result of its three decades of experience, ORNL has a comprehensive portfolio of research and development in bioenergy. It has more than 80 staff members working on such aspects of bioenergy as systems biology, biochemical engineering, national and global bioenergy analysis, resource economics, logistics modeling, spatial-data analysis and modeling, geospatial science and technology, transportation analysis, and environmental effects. This research portfolio is supported by the Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and Department of Agriculture.

On the operational level, CBES is a focal point and business-development vehicle for ORNL’s capabilities related to bioenergy sustainability and socioeconomic analyses. As such, it complements the BioEnergy Science Center (BESC), also located at ORNL, which focuses on the problem of converting lignocellulosic biomass into reactive intermediaries necessary for the cellulosic biofuel industry. Together, these centers provide a strong integrating mechanism and business-development tool for ORNL's science and technology portfolio in bioenergy. In close collaboration with BESC and the established program offices and line organizations, CBES

  • Promotes, coordinates, and leverages the diverse suite of projects related to bioenergy sustainability across ORNL
  • Sponsors outreach events to inform CBES associates, government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and the public through symposia and workshops on sustainability issues
  • Develops background materials for stakeholders and the public that summarize the state of bioenergy sustainability understanding
  • Is producing an expert analysis of the state of the art of bioenergy sustainability
  • Takes advantage of the 10,000 acres of switchgrass plantings under the Tennessee Bioenergy Initiative to study the ecology of large-scale biomass production and to address the regional-scale environmental benefits and challenges of cellulosic ethanol production in the southeastern United States

You can contact CBES by writing, calling, or e-mailing
Virginia Dale, Director
Center for BioEnergy Sustainability
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Oak Ridge, TN 37831-6035
Tel: 865-576-8043
Fax: 865-574-7287
dalevh@ornl.gov

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News

ORNL researchers discuss breakthroughs in biomass conversion, feedstocks, logistics and sustainability https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IJqRImGYAk.

The National Climate Assessment (NCA) was released on May 6 (see http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/). “The Global Change Research Act of 1990 requires a NCA assessment report at least every four years. Its production is led by the 13 Federal agencies that make up the U.S. Global Change Research Program, and is written by experts drawn from academia; local, state, and Federal government; and the private and nonprofit sectors. Contributions to the report were made from ORNL by Tom Wilbanks, Ben Preston, Steve Fernandez, Laurence Eaton, and Virginia Dale. The NCA found that, not only is global climate changing, but that the major source of change over the past 50 years has been burning of fossil fuels. The report  points out recent trends in climate change and increased extreme disturbances and calls for reduced use of fossil fuels that continue to atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. The Forest chapter points out the bioenergy could emerge as a new market for wood that could aid in the restoration of forests killed by drought insects and fire.

Rebecca Efroymson will receive the Holroyd Award, a science alumni award from La Salle University on April 29th.

Erin Webb has been invited to serve on the Eastern Regional Advisory Council for the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture. https://www.tn.gov/agriculture/general/ruralchallenge.shtml#MainContent

Poster presentation on "Bioenergy Sustainability" at the meeting of the Science Advisory Board of the ORNL Climate Change Science Institute on March 12, 2014.

A workshop was held on “Incorporating Bioenergy into Sustainable Landscape Designs” on March 4-6, 2014, in New Bern, North Carolina. http://web.ornl.gov/sci/ees/cbes/workshop.shtml

 

CBES Forums

 

 

 

Links

www.biomass.energy.gov

Bioenergy Knowledge Discovery Framework (KDF), sponsored by DOE and developed by a team at ORNL led by CBES member Budhendra Bhaduri, now has its own interactive website.

IBSS - Southeastern Partnership for Integrated Biomass Supply Systems

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