Opportunities and Challenges in the Design and Analysis of Biomass Supply Chains | AIChE

Opportunities and Challenges in the Design and Analysis of Biomass Supply Chains

The biomass supply chain is one of the most critical elements of large scale bioenergy production and in many cases a key barrier for procuring initial funding for new developments on specific energy crops. Most of the large scale productions of liquid biofuels rely on complex transforming chains linked to feed and food markets. The term ’supply chain’ covers various aspects from cultivation and harvesting of the biomass, to treatment, transportation and storage. After the energy conversion, the product must be delivered to final consumption, whether it is in the form of electricity, heat, or more tangible products, such as pellets or ethanol. Effective supply chains are of utmost importance for bioenergy production, as biomass tends to possess challenging spatial distribution and low mass, energy and bulk densities. Additionally, the demand for final products is often dispersed, further complicating the supply chain.

The goal of this presentation is to introduce key components of biomass supply chains and provide examples of modeling applications available for supply chain investigations.  The paper will introduce a concept of integrated supply systems for sustainable biomass trade, followed by three modeling tools developed to help users to understand the factors influencing the biofuel supply chain landscape.  The final section will concentrate on various aspects of transportation logistics, ranging from alternative modal / multimodal arrangements to introduction of two analytical support tools, one from U.S. and one from Brazil. Conclusions and research recommendations are also outlined to facilitate the future direction for this area of study.