Date of Award

8-2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Agricultural Economics

Major Professor

T. Edward Yu

Committee Members

Burton C. English, James A. Larson

Abstract

The low efficiency of collection, storage and transportation in the switchgrass supply chain has hindered the commercialization of a switchgrass-based biofuel industry, even given its ecological and environmental advantages in carbon sequestrate, soil quality, water use, and pollution pressure. Thus, designing a switchgrass-based supply chain balancing both environmental and economic performance is important to expedite the development of the cellulosic biofuel industry to meet the national energy plan.

The objectives of this study are to 1) determine economic cost and multiple environmental outcomes in feedstock supply chains and 2) identify the relation between the economic and environmental performances. The first paper considers three objectives: minimization of economic cost, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and soil erosions. The second paper focuses on the relation between economic cost and abated greywater footprint for industrialized supply of cellulosic biofuel in west Tennessee. The improved augmented epsilon method and compromise solution method were applied to high-resolution spatial data to determine the optimal placement of the feedstock supply chains.

Results in the first paper indicated that land change into switchgrass production is crucial to both plant-gate cost and environmental impact of feedstock supply. Converting croplands to switchgrass incurred higher opportunity cost from land use change but stored more soil carbon and generated less soil erosion. Tradeoffs in higher feedstock costs with lower GHG emissions and lower soil erosion on the frontier were captured. Soil erosion was found more cost effective criterion than GHG emission in general. The compromise solution location for the conversion facility generated at 63% increase in feedstock cost but improved the environmental impact in lowering 27 % GHG emission and decreasing soil erosion by 70 times lower in the feedstock supply chain compared with cost minimization location.

Results in the second paper showed that tradeoff between feedstock costs and greywater footprint was mainly associated with the changes of land use, while ambient water quality condition was also influential to the selection of feedstock production area. The average imputed cost of lowering grey water footprint in the most preferred feedstock supply chain in west Tennessee was $0.94 m-3 [per cubic meter].

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