U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Bioenergy Technologies Office


The Bioenergy Technologies Office uses a wide range of analytical tools, data, and methodologies to support decision making, guide research, and demonstrate progress toward goals. The wide variety of available biomass feedstocks, conversion technologies, and integration strategies offer a broad range of feasible biofuels scenarios, so the Office focuses its analytical activities on the biofuels research and development (R&D) pathways that offer the best potential for commercialization.

Strategic Analysis

Strategic analysis addresses cross-cutting issues to help frame overall Office direction and goals. The Office's strategic analysis activities have focused primarily on ethanol from lignocellulosic feedstocks. Examples include analyses of land-use change, the U.S. ethanol industry, and preparation of state-of-technology assessments. The Office has recently extended its strategic analyses to include a variety of advanced biofuels, which may be needed to meet legislated biofuels production targets. The Office uses detailed analysis of economic and environmental costs and benefits to make decisions regarding its future R&D activities.

Portfolio Analysis

Portfolio analysis ensures that Office activities and projects are aligned to meet the R&D targets necessary to accomplish Office goals. Each of the Office's technology platforms conduct R&D portfolio analyses in their areas of focus. Portfolio analysis guides development of a robust and balanced R&D portfolio that will enable the Office to cost-effectively achieve its targets by weighing benefits against costs and risks, taking into account the latest information on technical status, barriers, and markets, as well as external reviews of progress achieved by ongoing projects. The Program addresses pathway barriers by balancing the needs of the cellulosic biofuels industry and maintaining a connection among the various elements of the biomass-to-biofuels supply chain.

Available Reports and Data

Process Design Reports

State of Technology

  • Techno-Economic Analysis of Biofuels Production Based on Gasification – This study compares capital and production costs of two biomass-to-liquid production plants based on gasification.  Date published: November 2010
  • Current State of the U.S. Ethanol Industry – The objective of this study is to provide a comprehensive overview of the state of the U.S. ethanol industry and to outline the major forces that will affect the development of the industry over the next decade.  Date Published:  November 2010
  • Techno-Economic Analysis of Biochemical Scenarios for Production of Cellulosic Ethanol – A techno-economic analysis on the production of cellulosic ethanol by fermentation was conducted to understand the viability of liquid biofuel production processes within the next 5-8 years. Date published: June 2010
  • U.S. Biofuels Industry: Mind the Gap – This report was prepared is intended to provide an objective view of the evolving biofuels industry and many of its key participants. It is the second "Year in Review" report created for use by an intended audience of industry, investor, policy maker, and regulator stakeholders. This report covers the 2-year period of 2008-2009. Date Published: April 2010
  • Biochemical Production of Ethanol from Corn Stover: 2007 State of Technology Model – Since 2001, NREL has kept track of technical research progress in the biochemical process through what are known as "State of Technology" (SOT) assessments. The purpose of this report is to update the FY 2005 SOT model with the latest research results from the past two years. Date Published: May 2008
  • Analysis of the Efficiency of the U.S. Ethanol Industry 2007 – In 2007, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) conducted a survey of US ethanol production plants to provide an assessment of the current US ethanol industry. The survey covers plant operations in both corn dry mills and wet mills. In particular, it includes plant type, ownership structure, capacity, feedstocks, production volumes, coproducts, process fuel and electricity usage, water consumption, and products transportation and distribution. This report includes a summary and analysis of these results. Date Published: March 2008

Greenhouse Gas Emissions



  • Fuel Economy and Emissions of the Ethanol-Optimized Saab 9-5 Biopower – Owing to renewed and growing interest in increased ethanol utilization in the U.S., a European-specification 2007 Saab 9-5 Biopower 2.0t was acquired by the Department of Energy and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) for benchmark evaluations. This report details the results of these evaluations. Date Published: January 2007
  • Infrastructure Requirements for an Expanded Fuel Ethanol Industry – This report provides technical information specifically related to ethanol transportation, distribution, and marketing issues. This report required analysis of the infrastructure requirements for an expanded ethanol industry. Date Published: January 2002


  • Bioenergy Knowledge Discovery Framework – An online collaboration and geospatial analysis tool that allows researchers, policymakers, and investors to explore and engage the latest bioenergy research. The Bioenergy KDF harnesses Web 2.0 and social networking technologies to build a collective knowledge system that facilitates collaborative production, integration, and analysis of bioenergy-related information.
  • Biomass Energy Data Book – The purpose of this data book is to assemble biomass data from diverse sources to produce a comprehensive document that supports anyone with an interest or stake in the biomass industry. Last Updated: November 2009