Date of Award

12-2016

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Agricultural Economics

Major Professor

T. Edward Yu

Committee Members

James Larson, Burton English, Dayton Lambert

Abstract

Biomass is considered as one potential feedstock for biofuel production. However, the high cost of biomass-to-biofuel supply chain, attributed to biomass’s low bulk density and resulting harvest, storage, and transportation challenges, has been a major hindrance to the success of biomass-based biofuel industry. In addition, the issue of dry matter losses during storage for a feedstock has affected biomass quantity and quality if the feedstock is stored for several months after a single harvest in a year. One potential way to improve the economics of biomass supply chain is to reduce storage need and enhance the utilization of harvest equipment by adopting multiple feedstocks that have different harvest seasons and can be collected with the identical equipment. However, the multiple-feedstock system can be quite complex, especially when several types of biomass, each with a different set of physical and chemical characteristics, are involved. Thus, the objectives of this study are to 1) determine the cost of feedstock establishment, maintenance, harvest, transportation, and preprocessing, as well as the opportunity cost of the land use for feedstock in the single- and multiplefeedstock supply chain systems; and 2) evaluate how certain input variables (e.g., biomass yield, interest rate, diesel fuel price) impact the supply chain cost and the changes in relative cost between the two systems. The results suggest the multiple-feedstock supply chain cost is $7.34 per dry Mg ($0.024 per liter) lower than the single-feedstock supply chain cost. Diesel fuel price, discount rate, and the throughput of harvest machine are the three input factors that would greatly affect the supply chain cost for both systems.

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