Switchgrass Supply Chain Economic Analysis
Larson, J. A., B. C. English, T. E. Yu, and C. Boyer.  2017.  Presentation at The Great Experiment: A Decade of Biofuels Science, Knoxville, TN, March 13-14, 2017.

Research was accomplished that assessed the economic feasibility of a switchgrass supply chain in Tennessee and the southeastern United States. A multi-faceted research program was undertaken to evaluate the effects of alternative biomass procurement technologies on supply chain costs and environmental indicators. Two studies used enterprise budgeting and Geographical Information System (GIS) software to analyze costs of alternative harvest, preprocessing/pretreatment, and storage methods used to procure biomass feedstock (Larson et al. 2010; Zhang 2016). Methods used to procure feedstock that were evaluated included large round and rectangular bale harvest and storage systems or field-chopped biomass directly transported to a conversion facility for preprocessing or to a satellite facility for preprocessing and storage. The analyses evaluated tradeoffs in biomass yields, biofuel conversion facility plant gate costs, dry matter losses during storage, and investment requirements among logistic systems. Other studies evaluated the influence of bale shape, particle size, packaging, storage cover, and storage period on storage dry matter losses (Mooney et al. 2012; Yu et al. 2014) and chemical composition and quality (Aboytes et al. 2016; Kline et al. 2016; Boyer et al. 2016). Research also assessed the cost of feedstock at the conversion facility plant gate of alternative biomass feedstock supply chain configurations and integrate environmental criteria into optimal facility siting and feedstock logistics decisions. These studies included analysis of the economic impacts of using switchgrass as a feedstock for ethanol production (English et al. 2013), GIS-based optimization for advanced biofuels supply chains (Yu et al. 2014a), multi-objective optimization of dedicated energy crop supply systems (Yu et al. 2014b), assessment of outdoor storage losses on feedstock inventory management and plant-gate cost (Larson et al. 2015), analysis of alternative logistics systems for a feedstock collection and distribution hub (Chugh et al. 2016), and determination of environmental and economic tradeoffs in switchgrass supply chains for biofuel production (Yu et al. 2016; Zhong, et al. 2016). The aforementioned research sought to identify harvest, storage and preprocessing/pretreatment practices that minimize feedstock costs and maximize environmental benefits in a biomass supply chain.