Bioenergy is renewable energy derived from biological material such as crops or crop residues, wood from forestry or community sources, and livestock or food processing wastes. IIRA assists rural communities and businesses in developing successful bioenergy enterprises to increase environmental and economic sustainability.

First generation biofuels

Illinois is the number three producer of starch-based ethanol in the US, with over 1.5 million gallons per year of corn grain ethanol production capacity. A number of the successful dry grind ethanol plants in the state were started with IIRA assistance in the early 2000. Methyl ester biodiesel made from soybean oil, corn oil, and residual fats and oils from food processing is also a major presence, with well over 200 million gallons per year of Illinois production capacity.

  • Illinois biorefinery map (2015)download PDF. IIRA maintains a map of all commercial-scale biorefineries in Illinois, including a table of nameplate production capacity numbers.
  • “Delta Gold” small-scale biodiesel initiative IIRA report (2014)download PDF. This small-scale biodiesel project using alternative oilseed crops and centered on value chain development and community economic development was the subject of an IIRA Rural Research Report.
  • Illinois Corn Co-Products Project. From 2007 to 2012, IIRA collaborated with the National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center (NCERC) and the Illinois Corn Marketing Board to operate a third-party compositional analysis service for co-products from about 20 corn processors (primarily dry grind ethanol plants) in Illinois and surrounding states. Detailed data is available on the project website.

Cellulosic biomass energy

Cellulosic (or lignocellulosic) biomass is plant matter other than the simple sugars, starches, and oils that are used in food and feed markets, such as biomass derived from perennial grasses, crop residues, or trees. A variety of pathways exist to convert cellulosic biomass into liquid transportation fuels, electricity, or heat.

  • Illinois Biomass Working Group. IBWG is the is a public-private roundtable of farmers, businesses, researchers, and agencies seeking to accelerate the development of a biomass energy sector in Illinois, and is facilitated by IIRA. Visit the IBWG website for a list of upcoming biomass energy events and to sign up for the IBWG email list.
  • Midwest Residential Heating Fuel Use Assessment. On behalf of the Heating the Midwest with Renewable Biomass initiative, IIRA conducted a county-level analysis of current residential heating fuel usage in 10 Midwestern states. Homeowners or renters who heat with LP or electricity face some of the highest energy prices anywhere in the economy, making residential heating a key opportunity for displacing fossil fuels with biomass energy.
  • Biomass residential heating market segmentation studycoming soon.