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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is promoting the development of ethanol from lignocellulosic feedstocks as an alternative to conventional petroleum-based transportation fuels. DOE funds both fundamental and applied research in this area and needs a method for predicting cost benefits of many research proposals. To that end, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has modeled many potential process designs and estimated the economics of each process during the last 20 years. This report is an update of the ongoing process design and economic analyses at NREL.

Aden, A.

A new addition to the growing biofuels resources list at AgMRC is a cellulosic ethanol feasibility template developed by agricultural economists at Oklahoma State University (OSU). The purpose of the spreadsheet-based template is to give users the opportunity to assess the economics of a commercial-scale plant using enzymatic hydrolysis methods to process cellulosic materials into ethanol. The OSU Cellulosic Ethanol Feasibility Template can be downloaded and modified by the user to mimic the basic operating parameters of a proposed ethanol plant under a variety of production conditions.

Rodney Holcomb

This paper examines the possibilities of breaking into the cellulosic ethanol market in south Louisiana via strategic feedstock choices and the leveraging of the area’s competitive advantages. A small plant strategy is devised whereby the first-mover problem might be solved, and several scenarios are tested using Net Present Value analysis.

Darby, Paul

This paper introduces a spatial bioeconomic model for study of potential cellulosic biomass supply at regional scale. By modeling the profitability of alternative crop production practices, it captures the opportunity cost of replacing current crops by cellulosic biomass crops. The model draws upon biophysical crop input-output coefficients, price and cost data, and spatial transportation costs in the context of profit maximization theory. Yields are simulated using temperature, precipitation and soil quality data with various commercial crops and potential new cellulosic biomass crops.

Egbendewe-Mondzozo, Aklesso

When the lignocellulosic biofuels industry reaches maturity and many types of biomass sources become economically viable, management of multiple feedstock supplies – that vary in their yields, density (tons per unit area), harvest window, storage and seasonal costs, storage losses, transport distance to the production plant – will become increasingly important for the success of individual enterprises. The manager’s feedstock procurement problem is modeled as a multi-period sequence problem to account for dynamic management over time.

Kumarappan, Subbu

Ethanol production doubled in a very short period of time in the U.S. due to a combination of natural disasters, political tensions, and much more demand globally from petroleum. Responses to this expansion will span many sectors of society and the economy. As the Midwest gears up to rapidly add new ethanol manufacturing plants, the existing regional economy must accommodate the changes.

David Swenson