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Title: Impacts of uncertain feedstock quality on the economic feasibility of fast pyrolysis biorefineries with blended feedstocks and decentralized preprocessing sites in the Southeastern United States

This study performs techno‐economic analysis and Monte Carlo simulations (MCS) to explore the effects that variations in biomass feedstock quality have on the economic feasibility of fast pyrolysis biorefineries using decentralized preprocessing sites (i.e., depots that produce pellets). Two biomass resources in the Southeastern United States, that is, pine residues and switchgrass, were examined as feedstocks. A scenario analysis was conducted for an array of different combinations, including different pellet ash control levels, feedstock blending ratios, different biorefinery capacities, and different biorefinery on‐stream capacities, followed by a comparison with the traditional centralized system. MCS results show that, with depot preprocessing, variations in the feedstock moisture and feedstock ash content can be significantly reduced compared with a traditional centralized system. For a biorefinery operating at 100% of its designed capacity, the minimum fuel selling price (MFSP) of the decentralized system is $3.97–$4.39 per gallon gasoline equivalent (GGE) based on the mean value across all scenarios, whereas the mean MFSP for the traditional centralized system was $3.79–$4.12/GGE. To understand the potential benefits of highly flowable pellets in decreasing biorefinery downtime due to feedstock handling and plugging problems, this study also compares the MFSP of the decentralized system at 90% of its designed capacity with a traditional system at 80%. The analysis illustrates that using low ash pellets mixed with switchgrass and pine residues generates a more competitive MFSP. Specifically, for a biorefinery designed for 2,000 oven dry metric ton per day, running a blended pellet made from 75% switchgrass and 25% pine residues with 2% ash level, and operating at 90% of designed capacity could make an MFSP between $4.49 and $4.71/GGE. In contrast, a traditional centralized biorefinery operating at 80% of designed capacity marks an MFSP between $4.72 and $5.28.

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Journal Name:
GCB Bioenergy
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 1014-1029
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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