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The Economics of Biomass Logistics and Conversion Facility Mobility: An Oregon Case Study
Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan www.asabe.org
Citation: Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 34(1): 57-72. (doi: 10.13031/aea.12383) @2018
Authors: Michael David Berry, John Sessions
Keywords: Biomass products, Biomass supply, Facility location, Mixed integer programming, Strategic planning, Transportable plants.
Abstract. This article presents an analysis of transportable biomass conversion facilities to evaluate the conceptual and economic viability of a highly mobile and modular biomass conversion supply chain in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. The goal of this work is to support a broader effort to more effectively and sustainably use residual biomass from commercial harvesting operations that are currently piled and burned as part of site preparation. A structural representation is first developed to include sources of biomass feedstock, distributed preprocessing hubs (centralized landings), and centralized processing facilities (biomass to product conversion sites) to produce desired products and byproducts. A facility costing model was developed to evaluate potential economics of scale, which then informed the optimization study. A mixed integer linear programming model was developed to characterize, evaluate, and optimize biomass collection, extraction, logistics, and facility placement over a regional landscape from a strategic level to evaluate the mobility concept. The objective was to minimize supply chain operational costs in order to quantify financial advantages and identify challenges of the proposed system modularity and mobility. A Lakeview, Oregon case study was evaluated with an assumed modular biochar facility servicing the region. In particular, we review economies of scale, mobility, energy costs, and biomass availability tradeoffs. This analysis points towards a modular system design of movement frequency between 1 to 2 years being most viable in the conditions evaluated. It was found that the impact of plant movement, scale, and biomass availability can increase supply chain costs by $11/BDMT ($10/BDT), $33/BDMT ($30/BDT), and $22/BDMT ($20/BDT) above the base case cost of $182/BDMT ($165/BDT) for a large-scale facility [45,000 BDMT yr-1(50,000 BDT yr-1)]in the conditions evaluated. Additionally, potential energy cost savings of a non-mobile modular stationary site as compared to one which utilizes off-grid electrical powers about $11/BDMT ($10/BDT) for a biochar facility. From the cases evaluated, a large-scale plant with limited mobility would be preferred under low availability of biomass conditions, whereas a stationary grid-connected plant would be more cost effective under higher availability conditions. Results depend greatly on the region, assumed harvest schedule, biomass composition, and governing biomass plant assumptions.
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