Assessment of densified biomass for fuels and chemicals

  • Author / Creator
    Sultana, Arifa
  • 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.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2011
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Kumar, Amit (Mechanical Engineering)
    • Lipsett, Michael (Mechanical Engineering)
    • Ma, Yongsheng (Mechanical Engineering)
    • Layzell, David (Institute of Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy
    • Gupta, Rajender (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
    • Secanell, Marc (Mechanical Engineering)