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Assessment of densified biomass for fuels and chemicals Open Access


Other title
biofacility location
greenhouse gas emission
optimum capacity
carbon credit
biomass supply and logistics
densified biomass
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Sultana, Arifa
Supervisor and department
Kumar, Amit (Mechanical Engineering)
Examining committee member and department
Secanell, Marc (Mechanical Engineering)
Gupta, Rajender (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
Lipsett, Michael (Mechanical Engineering)
Layzell, David (Institute of Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy
Ma, Yongsheng (Mechanical Engineering)
Kumar, Amit (Mechanical Engineering)
Department of Mechanical Engineering

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Utilization of renewable bioenergy is a sustainable approach to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, efficient use of this resource is hindered by the current knowledge-gaps concerning collecting and processing dispersed biomass from large areas. This study focuses on developing methodologies for assessing biomass-based facilities; availability of agri-biomass; their densification, energy and emissions compared to other fuels; transport logistics; and biofacility siting with optimum capacities analyzed in the GIS (geographical information system) environment. Densification of agricultural residue into pellets for fuels and chemicals was considered in the analyses. Agricultural pellets were ranked in order of preference using multi-criteria decision analysis which integrates economic, environmental and technical factors. The results show that straw pellets possess significant potential; they rank immediately after wood and switchgrass pellets for all scenarios. A data-intensive techno-economic model was developed to determine the optimum size of plants and the minimum cost of pellet production and the optimum capacity for pellet plants was 150,000 tonnes per year. To establish the supply logistics of large-scale biofacilities, a methodology was developed to assess the optimum delivery cost of multiple forms of lignocellulosic feedstocks. It was found that the optimal delivery mode can be achieved by combining 30% agricultural bales with 70% forest biomass in the form of wood chips. Agri-pellets’ potential to offsetting GHG emissions is 50% – 350% higher than that of other fuel sources such as wood pellets, coal and natural gas. A procedural model was developed within the GIS environment to determine an optimal system of biofacilities, considering environmental and economic factors. This methodology was applied to Alberta, and a land-suitability model was derived. The optimal capacity and cost change considerably in suitable locations. Methodologies developed under this study would be useful for optimal planning and siting of biofacilities in suitable geographical locations.
License granted by Arifa Sultana ( on 2011-09-15T22:31:09Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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