Biofuel feedstocks and supply chains: how ecological models can assist with design and scaleup

Authored by: Kristin C. Lewis , Dan F.B. Flynn , Jeffrey J. Steiner

Green Aviation: Reduction of Environmental Impact Through Aircraft Technology and Alternative Fuels

Print publication date:  September  2017
Online publication date:  June  2018

Print ISBN: 9780415620987
eBook ISBN: 9780203119969
Adobe ISBN:

10.1201/b20287-10

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Abstract

The ability of plants to fix atmospheric carbon provided the original ancient sources for today’s fuel, such as coal, oil, and natural gas, which drives modern society. Plants also have provided food, feed, and fiber throughout human history, and can now be the building blocks for the production of new renewable fuels and other bio-based products. However, large-scale replacement of fossil-based energy sources with new plant-based ones will require the production of large amounts of dedicated bioenergy crops. The cultivation of agricultural crops and their conversion into energy products present numerous technological, economic, environmental, and social challenges. However, with the careful design of renewable fuel supply chains and their associated sectors, a myriad of benefits could result for feedstock producers, biorefineries, and consumers alike. Economically viable pathways will emerge from the diverse array of feedstock and processing combinations, resulting from optimal matches with the available resources within different regions. In this way, truly sustainable, regionally appropriate production systems can evolve that will provide dependable amounts of feedstocks to produce reliable supplies of sustainable biofuels. However, production of dedicated bioenergy crops will need to be facilitated in a coordinated way by both end users and the agricultural sector. Bioenergy crops competing for land and processing facilities competing for feedstock will affect the optimal structure of a scaled-up biofuel industry within a given region.

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