ASABE revises biomass standard

By Erin Voegele | March 10, 2011

The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers has revised its standard on biomass terminology and definitions. Revisions to the standard, titled “Terminology and Definitions for Biomass Production, Harvesting and Collection, Storage Processing, Conversion and Utilization,” or ANSI/ASABE S593.1, were completed based on positive feedback from standard users as well as intensified government interest and mandates regarding the production of bioenergy, biopower and bioproducts from biomass.

The original standard was developed five years ago with the goal of providing those in the biofuels and biomass industries with a uniform set of terminology and definitions. According to Scott Cedarquist, ASABE’s director of standards and technical activities, the original standard established definitions for 69 biomass-related terms. The newly revised standard has defined 23 new terms, bringing the total to 92. In addition to adding new terms and definitions, Cedarquist also noted that the definitions of many of the original 69 terms have been revised or enhanced. Some of the new terms added to the standard include torrefaction, biochar, bone-dry material, drop-in fuels, and fungible fuels.

ASABE publishes more than 200 separate standards, each of which undergoes periodic revisions. Each standard published has a dedicated committee that periodically reviews it and makes necessary changes, Cedarquist said. At a minimum, each standard is reviewed every five years. However, revisions can be made more often if deemed necessary by the committee. “They are always looking at these standards and discussing whether or not these standards need to be revised,” Cedarquist explained.

The committee working on the newly revised biomass standard includes representatives of major universities, the USDA and equipment manufacturers, as well as researchers and practitioners, Cedarquist said. “It’s a good mix of people who put a lot of time into this document,” he continued.

In addition to benefiting companies and individuals who are already members of the biomass and biofuels industries, Cedarquist said that the standards developed by ASABE also play an important role in educating students who plan to enter the industry after graduation. “It’s very common to use the standards that we publish in the academic world,” Cedarquist said. Textbooks for renewable energy courses don’t always address the terms, definitions and topics included in the standards, in part because the industry is changing so quickly. In order to help ensure new professionals entering the renewable energy industry are well-prepared, Cedarquist said the ASABE often approves requests from teachers and professors who use the standards as part of their curriculum.

ASABE members and those with site-license privileges to the ASABE online Technical Library will be able to access an electronic copy of the standard in approximately six weeks. Other parties can order a copy of the standard by contacting the ASABE.