Models and Research Projects


A new version of the IBSAL model is provided in the below link to download. This version focuses on agricultural biomass such as corn stover and wheat straw. The developed agricultural biomass logistics scenario is based on the current logistics equipment and agricultural practices used by the three pioneering cellulosic ethanol plants in the USA using agricultural biomass as feedstock.

This version of the IBSAL model includes three files: 1) the IBSAL simulation model developed in the ExtendSim software, 2) IBSAL_Library: this file must be first copied and pasted in ExtendSim Library on your computer before opening the IBSAL simulation model otherwise the IBSAL model does not run properly. 3) IBSAL_Output spreadsheet in which you can find the detailed outputs of the IBSAL model. The outcomes of the IBSAL model are automatically transferred to this spreadsheet at the end of the simulation model.

To run the model, click on the button at the bottom of the front page of the IBSAL model (button name : “Run IBSAL”).

The manual of the current version of the IBSAL will be developed and provided shortly.

It is noted that new versions of the IBSAL model to analysis the logistics of forest biomass, algae and municipal solid waste are under way and will be added to the BBRG website in the near future.



Research Projects

Evidence of research excellence and scholarly activities of feedstock group:   Lim,   Bi,  Lau, Sokhansanj*, Melin+

  • Developed the  internationally  recognized BBRG  (Biomass & Bioenergy Research Group) as a center of excellence in graduate research on biomass size reduction, drying and torrefaction, storage,  materials handling, and logistics modeling.
  • Developed  close research and development collaborations with relevant  industries, Wood Pellet Association of Canada, Forest Products Innovation (FPInnovation), BC Bioenergy Network, NORAM, Pacific Bio, Weyerhaeuser,  Western Forest Products Inc.,  CSQ, Pinnacle, Zilkha, Nexterra.
  • Developed strategic research programs and received fundings from various NSERC programs: Discovery Grant, Strategic Research Program, Collaborative Research & Development Program, Engage Program, Regional Opportunity Program; also from BC Ministry of Forest; from Natural Resources Canada,  from Agriculture and Agrifood Canada; from  British Columbia Innovation Council / Natural Resources and Applied Sciences Endowment Fund (NRAS) in collaboration with Dr. Saddler for biomass to ethanol production; from  the National Agricultural Bioproducts Innovation Program through Agricultural  Biorefinery Innovation Network (ABIN) Project (University of Western Ontario).
  • Established international research collaboration with  Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory, Swedish  Biomass Technology and Chemistry Research Center at SLU (Umea), University of Georgia, University of Tennessee, Texas A&M, University of Arkansas, Forest Concepts of Auburn WA, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne.
  • Led elements of networks on several Networks of Excellence including Biochar Net,  Central platform and Western platforms on Network for Canadian Research Integration & Innovation in Bio-Fuels Sustainability (CRIIB), and Eco Initiative.
  • In collaboration with Nexterra and the UBC Project Services, developed the research project “Feedstock characterization for the Nexterra CHP gasification system” in support of UBC Bienergy Reserach and Demonstration Project and the Living Lab Initiative.
  • Received awards: Maple Leaf award from Canadian Society for Bioenerginnering, Fellow American Society of Agricultural & Biological Engineering,  Fellow Canadian Society of Bioenergineering.
  • Within the past 4 years trained 3 doctoral, 5 M.Sc., 10 postodoctoral and visiting scholars, 8 undergraduate students (part time research); students and visiting scholars from Italy, Germany, U.S. , Japan, India, Iran, Chile, Columbia, China.
  • Organized and conducted a highly successful   two-day workshop at UBC (May 2011) on pelletization and torrefaction with more than 100 attendees from industry and research organizations.
  • Regularly hosts national and international visitors to the laboratory and to the Department
  • Served as President of the Canadian Society for Bioengineering and Chaired the Sea to Sky Branch of the Association of professional Engineers and Scientists in BC.

BBRG has member expertise in a number of key biomass research areas:

Biomass feedstock integration for an emerging bio industry in Canada

Biomass Feedstock Integration

Moisture Management for Lignocellulosic Biomass

We investigate natural drying and alternative drying techniques including solar drying and biodrying that can save energy consumption for forest and agricultural residues.  Aside from studying the moisture sorption characteristics and effectiveness of drying, we also determine the optimal operating parameters for minimizing off-gas emissions and dry matter losses while expediting drying.
Principals: SokhansanjLau

Supply Chain Logistics

Feedstocks are often the most unpredictable and costly portion of bioenergy operations. Our research and modelling aims to optimize feedstock supply chains in terms of equipment, delivery routes, personnel, and timing, thereby minimizing delivered costs.
Principals: SokhansanjSowlati

Resource Assessment and Analysis

Using GIS and other data sources, we can determine sustainable biomass utilization options for agriculture, forestry, and biomass crops. By aligning conversion technologies (eg. heat production, pellets, fuel) with biomass availability, models can be used to optimize plant size and functions in relation to feedstock supplies, thereby maximizing revenue.
Principals: SowlatiSokhansanj

Size Reduction

Research focuses primarily on size reduction of biomass from a variety of feedstocks (wood and herbaceous crop) and its grinding performance and energy consumption were also studied.
Principals: SokhansanjBiLim


Research focuses primarily on pellet production from a variety of feedstocks and related issues of the pellet industry such as off-gassing. In addition, we are exploring associated pre-processing options such as steam explosion and torrefaction.
Principals: SokhansanjBi,LimLau

Combustion, Gasification and Pyrolysis Technology

All elements of the biomass supply chain need to align with the feedstock requirements of the final conversion process. Drs. Bi and Lim have been also active members of the UBC combustion and gasification program, with current focus on auto-thermal biomass steam gasfication in dual fluidized bed gasifier and catalytic tar removal from syngas, an effort involved UBC, other universities, governments labs, and industry.
Principals: BiLim

Life Cycle Analysis

Bioenergy systems, just like all energy systems, and highly complex with many interacting factors affecting the environmental impact of the entire system. This includes greenhouse gas emissions, energy balances (including parasitic power requirements), air pollant release, impact on water systems, and land-use influences.
Principals: SowlatiBi

Pellet storage and handling 

Pellets storage leads to offgasing, dust explosion and self combusion problem. There are significant health risks and operational issues associated with off-gassing and BBRG is helping the industry to develop a MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) and to mitigate the problem.
Principals: SokhansanjBiLimLau, Melin

Pyrolysis of biomass in novel reactors for high quality carbon material production

We have been working on torrefaction as a pretreatment to improve the quality of wood pellets. Our work spans kinetics study using TGA, torrefaction performance tests in both fixed bed and fluidized bed torrefaction reactors, as well as densification of torrefied sawdust to pellets and characterization of torrefied pellets. At the same time, we have also used a microwave fluidized bed reactor for the preparation of high quality carbon catalyst particles via pyrolysis and activation of pretreated biomass.

Multi-criteria Decision Support Systems

There are many different types of biomass with signficant property differences and end-use options. The flexibility of biomass is one of its primary advantages over other renewable energy sources, but it also makes decisions on type, preprocessing, transportation, desired end-product, and conversion process very complex. BBRG’s team is developing mechanisms to enable comparisons of biomass options given a host of inputs and desired outcomes (eg. profit maximization, environmental impact minimization).
Principals: Sokhansanj

*Adjunct professor, +Honorary Research Associate