Spatially and Temporally Optimal Biomass Procurement Contracting for Biorefineries

Subbu Kumarappan, Satish Joshi


This paper evaluates the optimal composition of annual and perennial biomass feedstocks for a biorefinery. A generic optimization model is built to minimize costs – harvest, transport, storage, seasonal, and environmental costs – subject to various constraints on land availability, feedstock availability, processing capacity, contract terms, and storage losses. The model results are demonstrated through a case study for a midwestern U.S. location, focusing on bioethanol as the likely product. The results suggest that high-yielding energy crops feature prominently (70 to 80%) in the feedstock mix in spite of the higher establishment costs. The cost of biomass ranges from 0.16 to 0.20 $ l-1 (US$ 0.60 to $0.75 per gallon) of biofuel. The harvest shed shows that high-yielding energy crops are preferably grown in fields closer to the biorefinery. Low-yielding agricultural residues primarily serve as a buffer crop to meet the shortfall in biomass requirement. For the case study parameters, the model results estimated a price premium for energy crops (2 to 4 $ t-1 within a 16 km (10-mile) radius) and agricultural residues (5 to 17 $ t-1 in a 16 to 20 km (10 to 20 mile) radius.


Cellulosic biofuels; Biomass; Biorefinery; Supply; Harvest shed

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