Can biomass be used to make liquid or gas fuels? What about transportation fuels?

Scientific and technical processes are being developed in order to convert the cellulosic material of woody biomass into usable fuels. Significant research and development is currently underway to make such conversion processes technically and economically viable. However, conversion technologies are not yet considered economical and are not used on an industrial scale (e.g. corn to ethanol). Synthetic gas fuels (syngas - similar to natural gas) and liquid fuels (ethanol and synthetic diesel) have been created in pilot-scale facilities in Europe and in limited quantities in the United States.

The primary challenge of developing liquid or gas fuels from woody biomass is breaking down the complex cellulosic structure of wood into simple hydrocarbons and sugars that can be converted into liquid fuels. Because of the promise that biofuels may have for reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil, significant private and public sector resources are being devoted to support research, development and commercial deployment of biomass to fuels conversion technologies.

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1. What is woody biomass, and where does it come from?
2. What is renewable biomass energy? Why is it renewable?
3. What is a biomass power generation facility? How is power currently generated from wood?
4. How big is a biomass power plant? How big is the proposed eastern Placer County biomass facility?
5. What waste products does the plant produce?
6. What air pollution issues does biomass power present?
7. How would biomass power impact wildfire catastrophes? Will biomass power endanger our forests?
8. How is it renewable energy if it emits greenhouse gases?
9. Will there be an increased cost of lumber products or food produce? Will any food crops be impacted (like corn due to ethanol production)?
10. Is biomass power more expensive than other power generation?
11. Can biomass be used to make liquid or gas fuels? What about transportation fuels?