BioEnergy Research

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 590–604 | Cite as

Biomass Storage Options Influence Net Energy and Emissions of Cellulosic Ethanol

  • Isaac Emery
  • Jennifer B. Dunn
  • Jeongwoo Han
  • Michael Wang
Article

Abstract

Incremental biomass losses during the harvest and storage of energy crops decrease the effective crop yield at the biorefinery gate. These losses can affect the environmental performance of biofuels from cellulosic feedstocks by indirectly increasing agricultural inputs per unit of fuel and increasing direct emissions of pollutants during biomass decomposition in storage. In this study, we expand the Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation (GREETTM) model to include parameters for harvest and storage of dry bales, bale silage, and bulk silage and examine the potential impact of the biomass supply chain on energy use and air pollutants from cellulosic ethanol from corn stover, switchgrass, and miscanthus feedstocks. A review of storage methods shows substantial differences in expected losses (4.2 to 16.0 %) and variability. Model results indicate that inclusion of feedstock harvest and storage pathways increases net fossil energy consumption (0.03–0.14 MJ/MJ) and greenhouse gas emissions (2.3–10 g CO2e/MJ) from cellulosic ethanol compared to analyses that exclude feedstock losses, depending on the storage scenario selected. Greenhouse gas emissions were highest from bulk ensiled silage and bale silage pathways, driven by direct emissions of greenhouse gasses during storage and material use, respectively. Storage of dry bales indoors or under cover minimizes emissions. This report emphasizes the need to increase the detail of biofuel production models and address areas of great uncertainty in the biomass supply chain, such as biomass decomposition emissions and dry matter losses.

Keywords

Biomass supply chain Greenhouse gas emissions Life cycle analysis Biomass storage Dry matter loss 

Abbreviations

DML

Dry matter loss

GHG

Greenhouse gas

GREET

Greenhouse Gases and Regulated Emissions in Transportation

HDPE

High-density polyethylene

LCA

Life cycle analysis

LDPE

Low-density polyethylene

LRB

Large round bale

LSB

Large square bale

PM

Particulate matter

VOC

Volatile organic compounds

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York (outside the USA) 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Isaac Emery
    • 1
  • Jennifer B. Dunn
    • 2
  • Jeongwoo Han
    • 2
  • Michael Wang
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Agricultural and Biological EngineeringPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  2. 2.Systems Assessment Group, Energy Systems DivisionArgonne National LaboratoryArgonneUSA

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