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Bioenergy: Glossary


Advanced Biofuel—Biofuels derived from renewable biomass other than corn-kernel starch (according to the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, or 2008 Farm Act), including biofuel derived from cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin, and from sugar and starch other than cornstarch. Also includes ethanol from waste materials (crop residues, vegetative waste, animal waste, food waste, and yard waste); diesel-equivalent fuel derived from renewable biomass, including vegetable oil and animal fat; biogas; butanol; and butanol or other alcohols produced through the conversion of organic matter from renewable biomass. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 also specifies that advanced biofuels have lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions at least 50 percent less than baseline (2005) lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions for gasoline or diesel.

Biobased products—A product determined by the Secretary of Agriculture to be a commercial or industrial product (other than food or feed) that is composed in whole or in significant part of biological products, including renewable domestic agricultural and forestry materials, or an intermediate ingredient or feedstock (according to the 2008 Farm Act).

Bioenergy—Useful, renewable energy produced from organic matter; i.e., the conversion of complex carbohydrates in organic matter to energy. Organic matter may either be used directly as a fuel, processed into liquids and gases, or be a residual of processing and conversion. See Bioenergy Feedstock Information Network for more information.

Biorefinery—According to the 2008 Farm Act, the term means a facility (including equipment and processes) that converts renewable biomass into biofuels and biobased products, and may produce electricity.

Lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions—"The aggregate quantity of greenhouse gas emissions (including direct emissions and significant indirect emissions such as significant emissions from land use changes), as determined by the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, related to the full fuel lifecycle, including all stages of fuel and feedstock production and distribution, from feedstock generation or extraction through the distribution and delivery and use of the finished fuel to the ultimate consumer, where the mass values for all greenhouse gases are adjusted to account for their relative global warming potentia" (according to the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007)

Renewable biomass—According to the 2008 Farm Act, renewable biomass is:

  • Materials that are byproducts of preventive treatments (e.g., trees, wood) that are removed to reduce hazardous fuels, to reduce or contain disease or insect infestation, or to restore ecosystem health; would not otherwise be used for higher value products; and are harvested from National Forest System land or public lands in accordance with public laws, land management plans, and requirements for old-growth maintenance.

  • Any organic matter that is available on a renewable or recurring basis from non-Federal land or land belonging to Indian tribes, including renewable plant materials (feed grains, other agricultural commodities, other plants and trees, algae), waste material (crop residue, other vegetative waste material including wood waste and wood residue), animal waste and byproducts (fats, oils, greases, and manure), construction waste, and food waste/yard waste.

Online Glossaries

USDA Renewable Energy Glossary

U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Bioenergy Feedstock Information Network (the Glossary is in the list on the left side of the page)

U.S. Department of Energy, Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center, Glossary



For more information, contact: Thomas Capehart or Utpal Vasavada

Web administration: webadmin@ers.usda.gov

Updated date: April 15, 2010