Faced with global environmental, energy security and economic realities, support is growing for renewable, sustainable sources of energy. Alternative energy programs are increasingly seen as ways to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and other environmental impacts, reduce dependence on foreign energy sources, revitalize domestic industry and provide employment. Supplementing conventional transportation fuels with renewable is a priority in Michigan, as 44% of U.S. GHG emissions come from petroleum, which is largely from non-domestic sources (EIA, 2008).
Transportation fuels made from different biomass resources do not deliver identical environmental and economic benefits. New methods for biofuels production seek to utilize biomass that does not also serve as a food crop (agricultural wastes, woody biomass, etc.) and are focusing on resources that do not require energy-intensive planting or maintenance. These second-generation biofuels primarily target cellulosic plant matter as a feedstock, which requires more advanced processing in order to liberate sugars that can be fermented into alcohols such as ethanol. Several pathways are possible for the production of cellulosic ethanol or other advanced biofuels from the host of potential renewable biomass resources, and considerable efforts are being made in order to develop economically, socially, and environmentally viable biofuels production systems.
In order to attract private sector ventures in alternative, sustainable energy technologies and aid their efforts to commercialize new technologies, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) has established several Michigan Centers of Energy Excellence (COEE), including a large project focused on developing biomass supply for a planned cellulosic ethanol facility. Frontier Renewable Resources (FRR) is establishing a commercial-scale ethanol plant in 2013 near Kinross, MI, with planned annual production of 40 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol and other bio-products.
The FRR COEE project is a multi-institution research program to develop a comprehensive analysis and model of the feedstock supply chain system for the facility at Kinross, MI. In order to gather, handle, and transport biomass (hardwood pulpwood and chips) to the biofuels facility in an economical manner that responds to varied input requirements, several stakeholder groups with a range of competing and synergistic interests will need to participate in the supply chain process. This poster discusses the proposed biofuels feedstock supply system for this facility and then provides details of research projects in areas of (1) supply chain optimization and simulation model development, (2) sustainable forest biomass feedstock availability, (3) improving forest feedstock harvesting, processing, and transportation efficiency, (4) life cycle environmental and techno-economic assessments, and (5) outreach, extension, and technology transfer.
See more of this Group/Topical: Sustainable Engineering Forum