Commonly known as Biomass
Biorenewable resources, or biomass, are materials of sustainable biological origin. These materials range from animal to plant sources and are often crops and aquatic plant life (i.e., corn, soy and algae). Biorenewable resources are often used in everyday living after processing them into biobased products like oils, fats, detergents and surfactants. Likewise biorenewable resources are converted into forms of energy (bioenergy) that can be utilized in place of fossil fuels in a more environmentally conscious manner. Recent research and innovation in the field of biorenewable resources are aligned with the mission of AOCS: “enriching the lives of people everywhere”.
The Growing Field of Algae
While several field crops and other agricultural products can be considered biorenewable resources, commercial algae production is gaining interest in both research and industry. Algae have been identified as a food and feed source, a nutraceutical, and as a component in some pharmaceuticals. Additionally algal species produce significant amounts of oil. Algae produce more oil than most other oil-producing crops and biorenewable resources currently under study. Once the oil is extracted from algae, it can be converted into various forms of biofuel.
Algae Biomass Organization (ABO) and AOCS
AOCS has been working with ABO and algae-based companies to determine the analytical methods that are the most suitable for the industry. These methods provide algal characteristics and quality assessment essential for the use of algal oil in international trade. ABO published a document entitled Industrial Algae Measurements Version 6.0 (.PDF) in which AOCS methods are listed on page 25.
Other valuable resources and information for algae can be found on the ABO’s website.
Other Biorenewable Crops
The term biorenewable resources in agriculture has been used synonymously with crops dedicated to energy production. The energy can be in the form of mechanical energy as extracted by the body from food or as biofuel energy to power machinery and vehicles. Corn (maize) and soybeans have been heavily researched and are currently utilized for the production of food, feed, fuels, plastics and biobased products.