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This paper describes the current Biomass Scenario Model (BSM) as of August 2013, a system dynamics model developed under the support of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The model is the result of a multi-year project at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). It is a tool designed to better understand biofuels policy as it impacts the development of the supply chain for biofuels in the United States.

Author:
Peterson, Steve

Discussions of alternative fuel and propulsion technologies for transportation often overlook the infrastructure required to make these options practical and cost-effective. We estimate ethanol production facility locations and use a linear optimization model to consider the economic costs of distributing various ethanol fuel blends to all metropolitan areas in the United States. Fuel options include corn-based E5 (5% ethanol, 95% gasoline) to E16 from corn and switchgrass, as short-term substitutes for petroleum-based fuel.

Author:
William R. Morrow

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a powerful tool that may be used to quantify the environmental impacts of products and services. It includes all processes, from cradle-to-grave, along the supply chain of the product. When analysing energy systems, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (primarily CO2, CH4 and N2O) are the impact of primary concern. In using LCA to determine the climate change mitigation benefits of bioenergy, the life cycle emissions of the bioenergy system are compared with the emissions for a reference energy system.

Despite a rapid worldwide expansion of the biofuel industry, there is a lack of consensus within the scientific community about the potential of biofuels to reduce reliance on petroleum and decrease greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Although life cycle assessment provides a means to quantify these potential benefits and environmental impacts, existing methods limit direct comparison within and between different biofuel systems because of inconsistencies in performance metrics, system boundaries, and underlying parameter values.

Recent legislative mandates have been enacted at state and federal levels with the purpose of reducing life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from transportation fuels. This legislation encourages the substitution of fossil fuels with ‘low-carbon’ fuels. The burden is put on regulatory agencies to determine the GHG-intensity of various fuels, and those agencies naturally look to science for guidance.

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.

Author:
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.

Author:
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.

Author:
Darby, Paul

The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 established specific targets for the production of biofuel in the United States. Until advanced technologies become commercially viable, meeting these targets will increase demand for traditional agricultural commodities used to produce ethanol, resulting in land-use, production, and price changes throughout the farm sector. This report summarizes the estimated effects of meeting the EISA targets for 2015 on regional agricultural production and the environment. Meeting EISA targets for ethanol production is estimated to expand U.S.

Author:
Malcolm, Scott A.