The Role of Biomass in America's Energy Future (RBAEF) project, initiated during the first half of 2003, has sought to identify and evaluate paths by which biomass can make a large contribution to energy services and determine means to accelerate biomass energy use. In addressing these issues, the study has focused on future, mature, technologies rather than today's technology. This perspective – the first of eight papers that comprise this issue – introduces the project, providing an operative definition of and method for estimating mature technology, a rationale for choosing the model feedstock, a list of the conversion technologies considered, and as a point of reference, a brief overview of the energy flows through a typical petroleum refinery. The subsequent papers are introduced as well. © 2009 Society of Chemical Industry and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
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