In July 2016, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) released a request for information (RFI) to seek input from industry, academia, national laboratories, and other biofuels and bioproducts stakeholders to identify existing capabilities to produce lignocellulosic sugars and lignin for use by the research community. The purpose of this RFI is to develop a comprehensive list of suppliers who are willing and able to produce and sell cellulosic sugar and/or lignin for use by the research community.
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Conventional feedstock supply systems exist and have been developed for traditional agriculture and forestry systems. These conventional feedstock supply systems can be effective in high biomass-yielding areas (such as for corn stover in Iowa and plantation-grown pine trees in the southern United States), but they have their limits, particularly with respect to addressing feedstock quality and reducing feedstock supply risk to biorefineries. They also are limited in their ability to efficiently deliver energy crops.
Pioneer cellulosic biorefineries across the United States rely on a conventional feedstock supply system based on one-year contracts with local growers, who harvest, locally store, and deliver feedstock in low-density format to the conversion facility. While the conventional system is designed for high biomass yield areas, pilot scale operations have experienced feedstock supply shortages and price volatilities due to reduced harvests and competition from other industries.