For biomass to be manageable as a commodity, it needs to have qualities that are compatible with existing commodity-scale solids handling infrastructures, such as high density, bulk-flowability and aerobic stability. Biomass preprocessing depots are central to achieving these characteristics by transforming diverse biomass feedstocks into uniform-format products that enable commodity-scale distribution and use.
Idaho National Laboratory’s Bioenergy Program has developed an engineering design, analysis model and conceptual strategy for a feedstock supply system that can sustainably provide uniform-format lignocellulosic biomass at a commodity scale within national cost targets. The Uniform-Format system consists of modularized harvesting and preprocessing systems that can be adapted to the diversity of feedstocks and yet be infrastructure-compatible with existing grain handling equipment and systems.
INL Bioenergy Program
The goal of INL’s Bioenergy Program is to overcome key technical barriers facing the U.S. bioenergy industry by systematically researching, characterizing, modeling, demonstrating and harnessing the physical and chemical characteristics of the nation’s diverse lignocellulosic biomass resources to more cost-effectively produce biofuels, biopower and other value-added products.
Four major INL research capabilities are employed to research, develop and demonstrate the systems and technologies needed to meet DOE’s biomass program requirements: (1) Biomaterials Deconstruction and Flowability, (2) Computational Engineering and Simulation, (3) Biomass Stabilizing and Upgrading, and (4) the Feedstock Process Demonstration Unit. Together, their research functions address each unit operation within the feedstock supply system, from the field to the biorefinery, including:
- Documenting and updating feedstock agronomic and physical characteristics data for all significant agricultural residue resources
- Developing technologies and methods to harvest and collect sufficient quantities of agricultural residues on an annual basis
- Demonstrating preprocessing technologies that produce feedstock materials with critical bulk materials handling properties, such as high density, bulk-flowability, and aerobic stability
- Developing and demonstrating innovative feedstock storage and queuing methods
- Demonstrating feedstock transportation and handling cost reductions
- Developing and validating optimum process and cost models for sustainable feedstock supply systems
- Demonstrating that lignocellulosic biomass feedstocks could be sustainably supplied to biorefineries within target cost and volume ranges.