Future Engineering Solutions For Biomass Feedstock Production
Agricultural & Biological Engineering
Biomass feedstock production (BFP) is a critical subsystem within the overall bio-based energy production and utilization system. It provides necessary materials input to the conversion process of biomass into fuel, power, and value-added materials. This subsystem includes the operations of agronomic production of energy crops and physical handling/delivery of biomass, as well as other enabling logistics. On the technical side, biological, physical, and chemical sciences need to be integrated with engineering and technology to ensure effective and efficient production of biomass feedstock. The entire bio-based energy system is understandably complex. The focus of this program will be on the engineering solutions for its subsystem of biomass feed stock production while keeping in mind its “external” interactions and influencing factors, such as social/economic considerations, environmental impact, and policy/regulatory issues.
The overall objective of this program is to develop effective and efficient engineering solutions and machinery for successful production of biomass feedstock. This program objective will be accomplished through five interrelated tasks of (1) Pre-Harvest Crop Production, (2) Harvesting, (3) Transport, (4) Storage, and (5) Systems Informatics and Analysis. For each task, systematic approaches will be taken to evaluate existing technologies, characterize task features, identify information needs and researchable questions, develop prototypes and computer models, conduct experiments and computer simulations, and analyze experimental data and simulation output. Results will be delivered in the forms of operational machinery design and prototypes, informational databases, and decision support tools.
Pre-Harvest Crop Production
Objectives: Develop optimized instrumentation and data processing systems for crop growth, health and stress monitoring; and algorithms for field operation scheduling.
Objectives: Develop sustainable and cost-effective processes and optimized equipment for harvesting and collecting biomass feedstock of both types (agronomic crop residuals and perennial grasses) from the field.
Objectives: Provide practical solutions to conveying biomass feedstock from the field to storage locations in sufficient quantities and at high enough delivery rates to sustain biomass-to-energy conversion facilities.
Objectives: Develop guidelines for locating and sizing storage facilities, as well as storage and preservation methods that will provide adequate supply of high quality biomass to processing plants.
Systems Informatics and Analysis
Objectives: Integrate information and knowledge from various sources related to the BFP system in a real-time fashion, perform systems analysis, evaluate systems level performance, and deliver the results of analysis based on the most current information, also in a real-time fashion.