Wednesday, May 2, 2007 - 10:30 AM

Techno-economic feasibility of regional biomass processing facilities

Joseph E. Carolan1, Bruce E. Dale2, and Satish V. Joshi1. (1) Agricultural Economics, Michigan State University, Agriculture Hall, East Lansing, MI 48824, (2) Department of Chemical Engineering and Material Science, Michigan State University, 3247 Engineering, East Lansing, MI 48824

Research indicates that large biorefineries capable of handling 3000-6000MT of biomass per day are necessary to achieve process economies. However, larger biorefineries also entail increased costs of biomass transportation, huge inventories, the necessity to contract with a large number of farmers for biomass supply, monopolistic market power vested with refining entities, and localized environmental impacts.  

 We propose a network of regional biomass processing facilities (RBMPF) as way to address these issues. The RBMPF is conceptualized as a flexible processing facility capable of converting biomass either into pelletized feedstock for electric power plants, or AFEX treated feedstock for biorefineries, or AFEX treated animal feeds. We envision that a number of such RBMPF will form an extended biomass supply infrastructure feeding into large biomass ethanol refineries. We evaluate the techno-economic feasibility of such a system of RBMPFs under various technical configurations and economic scenarios, and identify the drivers of successful implementation of such a supply chain.