Biofuel Adoption: A Case Study In Emerging Technology

Black, Avery, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Anderson, Eric, EN-Chem Engr Dept, University of Virginia

Biofuels, a potential part of this new era of energy, have struggled to be adopted as a scaled energy source and provide a relatively miniscule amount of energy in comparison to the dominant fossil-fuel industry. This solution cannot be solved by itself, it will take key players to promote the adoption and prove the technological feasibility of the industry. This thesis will work to understand the major and minor actors, how they have or have not influenced adoption, and their potential for improvement. Additionally, the capstone project will evaluate a viable systematic approach to developing algal biofuel production. As the world grows in energy consumption, this thesis and capstone will work together to understand how to optimize resources for biofuel energy generation.
The synthesis of both the thesis and capstone were very effective in continuing the conversation on how biofuels will fit into the global infrastructure. Seeing the lens of adoption through both socio-technical factors and a systematic modeling approach shed a light on where inefficiencies lie for the industry and technology alike. There was some disappointment on the economic outlook of the modeled system but it should serve as a motivator to create more efficient technology and approaches to biofuel feedstock. The growth of biofuels can benefit the world in its approach to capture carbon, create alternatives to fossil fuels, create jobs, and waste treatment and recycling, so it’s important to be aware of major obstacles so they can be overcome. As the industry progresses, future research should work to understand inefficiencies in land use, energy loss, economic margins, and infrastructural convenience for new biofuel systems. The potential for the biofuels industry is massive for the growing energy market but only after significant strides in biofuel production and integration can be accomplished.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Issued Date: