Woody biomass and mill waste utilization opportunities in Alabama: Transportation cost minimization, optimum facility location, economic feasibility, and impact



Four biorefinery technologies were studied for feedstock allocation, optimum facility location, economic feasibility, and their economic impacts on Alabama. The studied technologies are: (1) circulated fluidized bed gasification of woody biomass for Fischer-Tropsch (F-T) fuels and power production; (2) simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF) of paper sludge for ethanol production; (3) direct spouted bed (DSB) gasification with air and steam of woody biomass for power; and (4) direct combustion of woody biomass for power production. The optimum biorefinery locations for all four processes were southwestern Alabama. The average transportation distance for woody biomass was about 32 miles (51.5 km) to the biorefinery plants; however, longer transportation distances were required for paper sludge where the feedstock is provided by the pulp and paper plants in the region. The SSF process along with the DSB gasification process were the only economically feasible biorefinery technologies with an over 80 and 22.5% internal rate of return, respectively. Economic impacts of all the studied biorefinery technologies were comparable to each other. © 2010 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Environ Prog, 2010.