Advanced Woody Biomass Logistics for Co-Firing in Existing Coal Power Plant: Case Study of the Great Lakes States

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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering


© National Academy of Sciences: Transportation Research Board 2018. One of the core decisions on securing the supply of biomass to co-firing power plants is the design of a proper logistics system. Though technologies have been developed to improve the characteristics of feedstock, their effects in the logistics systems have received less attention. This paper compares the conventional woody biomass logistics system with the advanced woody biomass logistics system that includes the torrefaction process to upgrade the feedstock. More specifically, this study uses a mixed integer linear program to integrate conventional and advanced biomass logistics and applies them to a case study of 26 coal power plants in the Great Lakes states to determine the most feasible logistics system for each plant. The results revealed that the amount of cost savings from the advanced woody biomass logistics depends on the capacity and location of the power plant. To categorize the cost savings of individual plants, it was found that plants can be divided into seven groups based on three parameters: 1) annual coal tonnage shipped (total capacity), 2) availability of biomass in the vicinity, and 3) average distance from biomass collecting sites. Overall savings from advanced logistics were small, but plants within each of the groups demonstrated similar cost reductions. The sensitivity analysis showed that trucking costs and feedstock purchasing costs were most sensitive to variation. From torrefaction effects, energy content after torrefaction had more significance than mass reduction.

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Transportation Research Record