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A Geographic Information Systems Program to Optimize Feedstock Logistics for Bioenergy Production for Mobile Pyrolysis Units

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Transactions of the ASABE. 57(1): 249-257. (doi: 10.13031/trans.57.10120) @2014
Authors:   Miae Ha, Clyde L. Munster, Tony L. Provin
Keywords:   ArcGIS Model Builder, Biochar, Bio-oil, Corn stover, Energy sorghum, Feedstock logistics, GIS, Mobile pyrolysis, Network analysis, Switchgrass.

A comprehensive decision-making tool was developed to optimize the use of a fleet of mobile pyrolysis units in the North Central region of the U.S. to produce bio-oil from agricultural feedstocks. The concept is to use mobile pyrolysis units to convert low-density biomass to high-density bio-oil to minimize the cost of feedstock logistics. The feedstocks evaluated in this project included corn stover, energy sorghum, and switchgrass. It was assumed that (1) energy sorghum would replace grain sorghum and (2) switchgrass would be grown on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land. A Geographic Information System (GIS) program was developed to optimize the movement of mobile pyrolysis units based on an analysis of transportation networks, cropping patterns, feedstock production rates, and oil refinery locations in the North Central region. The locations of existing corn, sorghum, and CRP fields in the North Central region were obtained from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Model Builder, a utility in ArcGIS, was used to automate the GIS procedures. Network Analysis, an extension of ArcGIS, was used to find the best route to move the mobile pyrolysis units to new locations and to identify the nearest refinery to receive the bio-crude oil. The feedstock input rate for each mobile pyrolysis unit was assumed to be 40 tons/day.

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