EGEE 439
Alternative Fuels from Biomass Sources

6.1 Final Project

The final project will be due at the end of the semester. Toward the end of the semester, the homework will be less, so you’ll have ample opportunity to work on this. However, I am including the expectations now, so that you can begin to work on it.

Biomass Choice

You will be choosing a particular biomass to focus your report on. For the biomass you choose, you will need to do a literature review on the biomass and how and where it grows. Your requirements for location include 1) where it grows, 2) climate, 3) land area requirement, and 4) product markets near location. However, you are not to make a choice that already exists in the marketplace. This includes: 1) sugarcane for ethanol production in Brazil and 2) corn for ethanol production in the Midwest of the USA. You need to put thought into what biomass you are interested in converting to fuels and chemicals, as well as where you want to locate your small facility. Most of all, choose biomass and location based on your particular interests, so as to make it interesting to you.

Location Choice

Once you have determined a biomass, choose a location based on previous information. Discuss reasons for choice of biomass, location, and desired products for production. Include a map of the area you want to grow and market your product. Figure 6.1 is a map of the suburbs just north of Dallas TX, where I was living during middle and high school and where my younger brother now lives. I have put a box around an area where there is land that is farmed. You need to be aware of whether or not the biomass you choose can grow in the climate of the area you choose.

map of Suburbs north of Dallas, TX with an area of farmland boxed
Figure 6.1: Suburbs north of Dallas, TX – Plano, Richardson, and Allen. Boxed location is farmland.
Credit: GoogleMaps

Method of production of bio-based products

You will be choosing a method to convert your biomass into fuels. You are expected to include a schematic of the process units and a description of each process that will be necessary to do the biomass conversion; you should include what each process does and a little about the chemistry of each. Show the major chemical reactions that will take place in the process. If you need help with this, come and discuss it with me if you are on campus, or e-mail me and we can discuss how to do this. Figures 6.2a and 6.2b show a process diagram and a chemical reaction so you have an idea of what to expect.

Schematic of sulfuric acid pretreatment process
Figure 6.2a: Schematic of sulfuric acid pretreatment process. This is a typical process schematic or diagram.
Credit: BEEMS Module B1
Reaction schematic of the reaction of lignin in subcritical water, see image caption
Figure 6.2b: Reaction schematic of the reaction of lignin in subcritical water (1. ether cleavage via hydrolysis, 2. cleavage of aldehyde/ketone and methoxy, rearrangement reaction with each other). This is a typical reaction depiction, although most likely more complex than what I expect you to include.
Credit: M. Bembenic and C. Clifford, Energy Fuels, 27 (11), 6681-6694, 2013


The next section has to do with marketing your product. If you don’t have somewhere to sell your product, it will sit in a warehouse, maybe degrade (spoil is a more common term), and you won’t be making money on it. In the location you have chosen, is there a market for the product? If not, is there a location nearby that you can sell it? Discuss how you might market your products in the areas you want to use biomass and sell products. How might you make the product you are selling appeal to the public? Due to deregulation of electricity markets in various states, the prices of electricity will vary. Some companies charge more for renewable-based electricity, so they have to appeal to a particular market of people who are willing to spend more on renewable electricity.


We are going to assume that your process is going to be economic. However, any economic evidence that you can include that supports your process or indicates it would be a highly economical process will be beneficial to your paper. I would also like for you to include any research and development that must occur in order for the process to become viable and economic (i.e., what is the current research on this process?).

Other Factors

Discuss other factors that could affect the outcome of implementing a bio-refining facility. What laws, such as environmental, might be in place? What is the political climate of the community you have chosen? What is the national political climate related to the biomass processing you have chosen? Are there any tax incentives that would encourage your process to be implemented or the product to be sold? An example would be something like this: all airlines in the US are expected to include a certain percentage of renewables in the jet fuel they use. So, would your process make jet fuel, and how would you market it to airlines? Include other factors that could “make or break” the facility.


The report should be 8-12 pages in length. This includes figures and tables. It should be in 12-point font with 1” margins. You can use line spacing from 1-2. It is to be written in English, with proper grammar and as free from typographical errors as possible. You will lose points if your English writing is poor.

The following format should be followed:

  • Cover Page – Title, Name, Course Info
  • Introduction
  • Body of Paper (see sections described above)
  • Summary and Conclusions
  • References

Grading Rubric:

  • Outline (submitted as homework in Lesson 8) 20 points
  • Rough Draft (submitted as homework in Lesson 10) 20 points
  • Final Draft: 60 points

TOTAL: 100 points

When submitting, please upload to the Final Project Submission Dropbox in the Final Project Folder under the Lessons tab in ANGEL. Save it as a PDF according to the following naming convention: userID_FinalProject (i.e., ceb7_FinalProject). It is best to put it in PDF format, as I will not be able to access all word processing software.


If you have questions:

  • On campus, you can come and talk to me in my office, but you must prearrange a time to see me.
  • If off-campus, e-mail me and we can talk over the phone to see how I can help.