"The interest in using renewable energy is continuously increasing. Biomass is the most common form of renewable energy and recently, much attention has been paid to identifying suitable biomass sources which can provide high energy outputs to replace conventional fossil fuels. An important, but little understood aspect surrounding biofuels (fuels obtained from biomass) is the overall impact on global C and N cycling. Probably the increase of energy production from biomass will lead to higher input of its by-products to the soil as amendments or fertilizers. However, it is still unclear how these novel by-products of bioenergy production will influence microbial transformation processes in soil, and thereby its greenhouse gas balance and organic matter reserves. Particular attention has to be paid to changes in the C balance of the soil and changes in N2O emission of the soil, as these may negate any benefits made by biofuel production in terms of Global Warming Potential. With this project, I aim at studying the impact of different bioenergy by-products on C and N biogeochemical cycles. The study will focus on residues from two bioenergy chains (anaerobic digestion and pyrolysis), but novel bioenergy by-products from new developing tecnologies (such as residues from third-generation biofuels from algae) will also be included at laboratory scale. C and N mineralization in soil will be followed using a combination of 15N and 13C labeling units. Dynamics of CO2 and N2O will be studied in the field and under controlled conditions (laboratory experiments). N2O emitted per unit stabilized C will be quantified. This novel ‘efficiency parameter’ for C sequestration will be related to the different properties of the biofuel by-products. The integrated results of these experiments will help to understand the impact of the different bioenergy chains on C an N cycles, which may have a high impact on life cycle analysis calculations for the different bioenergy chains."
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