Monday, April 30, 2007

A comparative analysis of the logistics and costs in corn stover and corn grain ethanol plants

Klein E. Ileleji, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Purdue University, 225 South University Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907 and Abhijith Mukunda, Industrial Engineering, Purdue University.

Corn grain is the current feedstock of choice for ethanol plants. It is foreseeable in the near future that current corn ethanol plants will be transformed to produce ethanol from biomass feedstocks such as corn stover. This is because the production know-how already in place in current dry grind plants is similar to those for converting cellulose feedstocks to ethanol. However, corn ethanol producers are apprehensive of the economics of corn stover, and often seek to understand the economics and logistics of corn stover based plants. An important aspect of corn stover plant logistics is the handling operations and cost within the ethanol plant. The primary goal of this study was to conduct a comparative analysis of the feedstock transport logistics to the plant for both corn grain and corn stover, specifically the handling logistics within the plant of an existing 100 million gallon per year ethanol plant located in South Bend, Indiana. This comparative analysis provides information on the handling issues and baseline opportunity costs that will make corn stover become an attractive feedstock for ethanol production.