Biomass for Energy: Energetic and Environmental Challenges of Biofuels

  • Jean Michel MostEmail author
  • Marie Thérèse Giudici-Orticoni
  • Marc Rousset
  • Mireille Bruschi
Part of the Integrated Science & Technology Program book series (ISTP, volume 2)


Transportation is 94 % dependent on oil, represents around 20 % of global consumption of energy, and is responsible for 23 % of total emissions from fossil fuels. For several years, progress has been made to enhance the energy efficiency of the systems, but increasing the part of biofuel still seems irremediable both for environmental, economic, and energy independence reasons. Fuel production from biomass is clearly considered as an important substitute for liquid fossil fuels such as bioethanol for motor gasoline, biodiesel for diesel, jet fuel for biokerosene, and for gaseous fuels (hydrogen, natural gas for vehicles, biomethane, etc.). This chapter presents the main pathways for the production of biofuels, and classifies their degree of maturity:
  • The first-generation processes that value the reserves of a plant (starch, sugar, oil) are now mature and industrially deployed.

  • The second generation processes extend their resource to the whole plant tissues (agricultural, forest) or to organic waste, and are almost under scientific control but they still need more economic and energetic assessment before being commercially deployed.

  • The last innovative pathway, the advanced or third biofuel generation, shows significant potential by using bioalgae or microorganisms capable of producing much more biomass oil convertible into biodiesel and gaseous fuels such as methane or hydrogen.


First-generation biofuels Second-generation biofuels Algae for energy Biohydrogen Biodiesel Bioethanol 

List of Acronyms


French Environment and Energy Management Agency


Biomass to liquid


Crude vegetable oils


amu (atomic mass units)


General Directorate for Energy and Raw Materials


US Department of Energy


Gasoline with 10 % in volume of ethanol


Gasoline with 85 % in volume of ethanol


Ethyl tert-butyl ether


Fatty acid ethyl ester


Fatty acid methyl ester


Greenhouse gases


Gas to liquid




International Energy Agency


1MDa = 106 Da


106 Joules


106 toe


Net calorific value


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons


Plant cell wall


Part per million


Photosystem II (or water-plastoquinone oxidoreductase) is the first protein complex in light-dependent reactions.




Ton of oil equivalent


Volume by volume


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean Michel Most
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marie Thérèse Giudici-Orticoni
    • 2
  • Marc Rousset
    • 2
  • Mireille Bruschi
    • 2
  1. 1.Institut P’, CNRS UPR 3346/ENSMA/Université de PoitiersFuturoscope Chasseneuil, CedexFrance
  2. 2.Laboratoire de Bioénergétique et Ingénierie des Protéines CNRSMarseille, Cedex 20France

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