Date of Award

8-2009

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Geography

Major Professor

Shih-Lung Shaw

Committee Members

Bruce Ralston, Burton English

Abstract

Domestically produced renewable transportation fuels have become a priority for researchers, policy makers, and investors in recent times. Ethanol, particularly cellulosic ethanol made from woody or fibrous plant material, has emerged as one such fuel that could help to ease the current dependence on foreign oil. The questions of where to build the facilities that convert feedstocks to cellulosic ethanol as well where the feedstock will come from to supply these biorefineries are important ones. This paper examines methods for using GIS to model feedstock availability and ideal biorefinery location in an economically feasible manner.

The software developed as part of this study is referred to as BIOFLAME (Biofuels Facility Location Analysis Modeling Endeavor). Expanding on similar efforts that came before it, The model allows the user to perform an analysis on any combination of counties within a 16 state region in the southeast U.S. given parameters such as biorefinery capacity, crop prices, transport cost rate, feedstock yield adjustments, hay land availability, driving distance limit, required profit, and more. A suitability analysis can be performed using an array geographic features that a biorefinery might be situated near or away. A feedstock supply analysis then evaluates the costs involved in siting a facility in all candidate sites within the suitable areas. An ideal site is identified that minimizes transportation and farmgate costs. A report is generated that details the annual costs involved as well as how much and what kind of traditional cropland would be converted to switchgrass production under the scenario. The siting algorithm supports single or multiple facilities.

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Geography Commons

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