Commercialising Conventional and Advanced Liquid Biofuels from Biomass

Countries Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Japan, South Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, USA and the European Commission


Dr Jim McMillan
15013 Denver West Parkway
GOLDEN, CO 80401

Tel:  +1 (303) 384-6861
Fax: +1 (303) 384-6877

Assistant Task Leaders

Professor Jack Saddler
Professor of Forest Products Biotechnology/Bioenergy
Faculty of Forestry
University of British Columbia
4th Floor, Forest Sciences Center
4042-2424 Main Mall
Vancouver, B.C. V6T 1Z4

Tel:  +1 604 822 9741
Fax: +1 604 822 9104


1.         Definitions and Objectives


(a)  Definitions.

‘Liquid Biofuels’ means liquid fuels derived from biomass, such as ethanol and biodiesel, used primarily in the transportation sector. ‘1st generation biofuels’ means liquid biofuels derived primarily from food- or food-related feedstocks, including sugar, starch, and oilseeds. ‘2nd generation biofuels’ means liquid biofuels derived from structural components of plants and trees. ‘Sustainable Deployment’ means deployment of technologies on a long-term renewable basis.

(b)  Objectives

The core activities of Task 39 proposed for the new triennium remain focused on commercialisation of liquid biofuels, both conventional and advanced biofuels for the auto/haulage sector but with increased emphasis on aviation/maritime applications and encouraging participation by additional rapidly emerging economies (China, India, Russia, etc.). Specific objectives are to:

(i)         Catalyse cooperative research and development projects that will help participants:

–     Develop and commercialise improved, cost-effective bio-based processes for the production of advanced biofuels from renewable feedstocks, including converting lignocellulosic biomass to drop-in fuels (with renewed emphasis on liaising with Task 43 on feedstock type, availability, and sustainability, etc.)

–     Assess development and commercialisation of improved, cost-effective thermochemical-based processes, such as Fischer-Tropsch processes, for converting syngas to hydrocarbon distillates and other advanced biofuels (liaising with Tasks 33 and 34 as thermochemical technology experts)

–     Evaluate and catalyse advancements in development and implementation of processes for producing liquid biofuels from sugars or other biomass-derived intermediates, with increased emphasis on so-called of ‘drop-in’ hydrocarbon fuel products that can more easily be used in the existing petroleum/oil refining, processing and liquid fuels distribution infrastructure; and

–     Perform comparative assessments of biofuels pathways techno-economics and sustainability attributes, including energy and water efficiency, GHG reduction potential, material efficiencies, etc. As well as using the expertise within the Task 39 network, we will work closely and liaise with colleagues in Task 38 and Task 43 as well as other experts in groups such as FAO, OECD and the World Bank who have expertise in LCA-based sustainability analyses.

(ii)        Provide information and analyses on policy, markets and implementation issues (including regulatory 
and infrastructure development) that will help participants encourage commercialisation of liquid biofuels to displace or complement fossil-based fuels. The Task will continue to assess anticipated growth in conventional biofuels while monitoring and facilitating development of advanced biofuels. Policy analysis of pending and passed legislation concerning all liquid biofuels will remain an ongoing priority within the Task..

(iii)      Provide information dissemination, outreach to stakeholders and emerging economies while coordinating with other related groups.

The proposed Task structure is designed to facilitate cooperation and collaboration with other IEA Bioenergy Tasks, IEA headquarters and related organisations such as FAO and anticipated soon-to- become-member countries. In the coming triennium, the Task proposes inviting other key countries such as China, India, Russia, Chile, etc., who have growing national programmes in the biofuels area and have indicated interest in participating in this area but are not yet members of IEA Bioenergy.

2.         Scope of the Task


(a)     The Participants will have R&D programmes within their countries in order to meet the above objectives.

(b)     The Participants will carry out co-operative research work towards reaching the objectives described in paragraph 1(b) above, based on the national R&D programmes referred to in sub-paragraph (a) above;


The Programme of Work will to include greater emphasis on so-called ‘drop-in’ aviation and marine biofuels. The contribution of transportation fuels to climate change will also continue to be an issue requiring the ongoing use of analytical tools such as LCA and summary reports to facilitate policy decisions to help implement and accelerate the commercialisation and adoption of conventional and advanced liquid biofuels. The programme will focus on three main topic areas as follows:

(i)         Technology and Commercialisation strategies that catalyse and expand the use of conventional and advanced biofuels technologies: In the coming triennium, additional focus will be placed on hydrocarbon (or ‘drop in’) biofuels that can more easily be integrated into the existing petrochemical/oil refining, distribution and engine/transportation infrastructure. More specifically, emphasis will be placed on conventional and advanced biofuel deployment strategies that a) reduce costs (process integration and leveraging), b) increase GHG savings and improve other environmental sustainability measures (LCA), and c) increase market utility (drop-in replacement fuels and value added co-products)

(ii)       Policy, Markets, Implementation and Sustainability issues that address policy, legislative, regulatory and infrastructure concerns: Issues such as feedstock supply, production mandates, taxation of production and distribution, regulatory policies including certification, market development, business-related issues, environmental considerations, etc., will be assessed and analysed. Outreach to non-member countries, particularly China and India, will be prioritised in the ‘Policy’ subTask. Proposed work in this subTask will provide governments and decision makers with information to assist them in developing effective policies for conventional and advanced biofuels. This subTask will collaborate and liaise with Tasks 29 (Socio-economic), 38 (GHG Balances), 40 (Trade), and 43 (Feedstocks) and with groups such as FAO, GBEP, World Bank, etc.

(iii)      Multifaceted Communication Strategy to facilitate knowledge transfer between IEA Bioenergy and Task 39 members and other stakeholders: The Information Dissemination SubTask will implement the Task’s well-established and recognised multi-faceted communication strategy by distributing Task reports and other communications, providing efficient and accurate responses to inquiries and coordination with other stakeholder groups. Information will be disseminated through a variety of means, including the updated and interactive Task website, newsletters, workshops, conferences and potentially other electronic communications such as webinars.

In both Technology and Commercialisation and Policy, Markets, Implementation and Sustainability areas, the Task will work to identify and involve a wide range of stakeholders from industry, governments, academia, and research organisations. We will actively solicit participation and involvement of industry representatives in Task meetings, workshops, and other activities where appropriate. Representation from conventional biofuels producers and advanced biofuels developers and technology providers will be encouraged. These participants will help critique and prioritise projects within the Task as well as provide ongoing advice and ideas for future efforts. The Task will also work closely with other IEA Bioenergy Tasks, other IEA Implementation Agreements, IEA HQ and related organisations to leverage expertise, realise synergistic outcomes and achieve greater Task impact.