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Cob biomass supply for combined heat and power and biofuel in the north central USA

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Corn (Zea mays L.) cobs are being evaluated as a potential bioenergy feedstock for combined heat and power generation (CHP) and conversion into a biofuel. The objective of this study was to determine corn cob availability in north central United States (Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota) using existing corn grain ethanol plants as a proxy for possible future co-located cellulosic ethanol plants. Cob production estimates averaged 6.04 Tg and 8.87 Tg using a 40 km radius area and 80 km radius area, respectively, from existing corn grain ethanol plants. The use of CHP from cobs reduces overall GHG emissions by 60%–65% from existing dry mill ethanol plants. An integrated biorefinery further reduces corn grain ethanol GHG emissions with estimated ranges from 13.9 g CO2 equiv MJ−1 to 17.4 g CO2 equiv MJ−1. Significant radius area overlap (53% overlap for 40 km radius and 86% overlap for 80 km radius) exists for cob availability between current corn grain ethanol plants in this region suggesting possible cob supply constraints for a mature biofuel industry. A multi-feedstock approach will likely be required to meet multiple end user renewable energy requirements for the north central United States. Economic and feedstock logistics models need to account for possible supply constraints under a mature biofuel industry.
Marty R. Schmer , Heather L. Dose
USDA Scientist Submission
Biomass and bioenergy May 2014 2014 May v.64
Elsevier Ltd
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
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