Bioenergy short-course series offers look at best technology, ideas

March 22, 2011

University Park, Pa. -- A series of presentations about bioenergy, offered by Penn State's Biomass Energy Center from March through November, will cover the latest technology and the best ideas in this rapidly changing field.

The series consists of five short courses that will focus on the advanced skills and science needed in today’s growing bioenergy economy. Engineers, chemists, managers and project developers will benefit from these intensive sessions that feature national experts in vital bioenergy subjects.

"Rapid changes and breakthroughs in this field make it difficult to keep up, as well as to separate 'the wheat from the chaff' in this age of information overload," said Tom Richard, professor of agricultural engineering and director of Penn State's Institutes of Energy and the Environment. "This series of technical short courses is designed for bioenergy professionals seeking critical information and networking opportunities."

The series kicks off March 29 with "Winter Crops for Bioenergy," to be held at the Centre County/Penn State Visitor Center in State College, Pa.

"Winter crops, such as small grains and brassicas, have considerable potential as resources for increasing yields and providing feedstock for bioenergy, feed or other value-added products," said Daniel Ciolkosz, senior extension associate in agricultural and biological engineering, who organized the short course series.

"This short course will present recent developments in this underutilized opportunity area and examine scenarios for successful bioenergy production from winter crops."

The next session, "Combustion Emissions and Health," will be offered in June at the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center at University Park, Pa.

"Emissions and health impacts are a vital issue for the future of bioenergy in the nation," Ciolkosz said. "Controversy and confusion surrounding new regulations and proposed projects have made it difficult to see the opportunities and limitations of biomass energy relative to health and air quality. This short course will feature national experts discussing and clarifying this issue."

"Life Cycle Analysis" will be presented in July at a venue in the State College area to be announced soon.

Life-cycle analysis and techno-economic analysis are some of the most valuable tools for assessing bioenergy projects, Ciolkosz explained. This multi-day short course will teach the principles of bioenergy life cycle analysis and provide hands-on opportunities to develop these skills.

"Biofuels Catalysis" will be the title of the short course to be offered in the Philadelphia area in September.

"Catalysis processes continue to be one of the most effective means for transforming biomass into higher-value fuels and products," Ciolkosz said. "This short course will bring together experts in the field to discuss latest developments, opportunities and applications for catalysis in bioenergy projects."

The final short course in the series, "Forest Bioenergy," will be presented Nov. 8-9 at the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center, University Park, Pa.

The United States is remarkably rich in forest resources -- resources that can be enhanced by the growth of the bioenergy industry when projects are developed sustainably, Ciolkosz noted.

"This short course will focus on the latest developments in wood bioenergy, including short rotation crops and advanced biomass-harvest systems."

For more information on or to register for the 2011 Bioenergy Short Course Series, visit the short courses Web page or contact Sandy Maitland at 814-865-1507 or by email at

Part of the College of Agricultural Sciences' Environment and Natural Resources Institute and the Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment, the Biomass Energy Center aims to coordinate and facilitate research and outreach across the university, building teams to address the complete value chain of biomass energy systems.

  • Winter energy crops, combustion emissions and forest-based bioenergy will be among the topics of a short-course series sponsored by Penn State's Biomass Energy Center.

    IMAGE: Greg Grieco

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated May 18, 2012