Measuring the regional availability of forest biomass for biofuels and the potential of GHG reduction

Fengli Zhang, China University of Petroleum
Dana Johnson, Michigan Technological University
Jinjiang Wang, China University of Petroleum
Shuhai Liu, China University of Petroleum
Shimin Zhang, China University of Petroleum

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Forest biomass is an important resource for producing bioenergy and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The State of Michigan in the United States (U.S.) is one region recognized for its high potential of supplying forest biomass; however, the long-term availability of timber harvests and the associated harvest residues from this area has not been fully explored. In this study time trend analyses was employed for long term timber assessment and developed mathematical models for harvest residue estimation, as well as the implications of use for ethanol. The GHG savings potential of ethanol over gasoline was also modeled. The methods were applied in Michigan under scenarios of different harvest solutions, harvest types, transportation distances, conversion technologies, and higher heating values over a 50-year period. Our results indicate that the study region has the potential to supply 0.75–1.4 Megatonnes (Mt) dry timber annually and less than 0.05 Mt of dry residue produced from these harvests. This amount of forest biomass could generate 0.15–1.01 Mt of ethanol, which contains 0.68–17.32 GJ of energy. The substitution of ethanol for gasoline as transportation fuel has potential to reduce emissions by 0.043–1.09 Mt CO2eq annually. The developed method is generalizable in other similar regions of different countries for bioenergy related analyses.