How We’ll Solve the Problem
- Develop innovative methods and strategies to convert forest residues into high quality biomass feedstocks that meet the specification requirements (e.g., size, moisture content, and contaminants) for three biomass conversion technologies (biochar production system, torrefier, and briquetter), with emphasis on development of new chipping and grinding logistics and screening technologies.
- Evaluate new forest residue collection and handling techniques that increase the quality and accessibility of forest residues and improve the economics of using forest residue feedstocks in biomass conversion technologies, including forest residue sorting and arrangement during harvesting operations, baling and pre-hauling options for various forest residue types, and locating centralized processing sites under an optimized work condition.
- Develop a landscape-scale feedstock development scheduling model to optimize the selection of production pathways including collection, comminution, product upgrading (moisture control, densification, and in-woods biomass conversion), and transportation in order to identify pathway streams that maximize net revenue while reducing adverse environmental impacts.
Biomass Conversion Technologies
- Scale up the most promising prototype units for the three biomass conversion technologies mentioned above to sizes appropriate for achieving commercialization.
- Develop operational protocols for each biomass conversion technology that will eventually lead to self-contained operation in a forest operations field setting. These project activities will focus on identifying strategies that meet the primary energy needs of each biomass conversion technology, including the generation of heat for drying and processing input biomass feedstocks as well as electricity to power motor drives, densification equipment, and onboard control systems.
- Prepare each biomass conversion technology for mobile operation at a forest field site.
- Complete testing and evaluation of each biomass conversion technology in a forest operations setting using a variety of forest residue types. The target fuel types for this study include mixed conifers, mixed hardwoods, and juniper. Performance evaluation of the three technologies in a field setting will track parameters related to biomass energy conversion, input energy needs, emissions, and operation and maintenance requirements and costs.
- Evaluate the economic feasibility of the three biomass conversion technologies developed in the Biomas Conversion Technology technical area that will use the biomass feedstocks developed in the Feedstock Development technical area, including the costs and benefits of storing carbon on forest sites under carbon cap and trade regulations.
- Evaluate the economic and social impacts of implementing the proposed biomass conversion technologies with an emphasis on rural communities, including an estimation of the avoided costs (e.g, open burning and site preparation) achieved by using forest residues to produce bioenergy products.
- Determine the ecological sustainability of the three biomass conversion technologies, focusing on forest soils (including carbon storage and nutrient cycling), forest productivity, water quality and air quality.
- Conduct a cradle-to-grave life cycle inventory and a life cycle impact assessment for the process of biomass operations including three biomass conversion technologies.
- Identify and incorporate stakeholder concerns and interests in the project design and implementation and effectively communicate project results and information to these groups to encourage the adoption of the biomass conversion technologies utilizing forest residues for production of bioenergy and bio-based products.