Optimized Feedstock Logistics for Mobile Pyrolysis Units in the North Central Region of the U.S. Academic Article uri icon


  • © 2014 American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. Mobile pyrolysis units have the potential to greatly simplify feedstock logistics by moving pyrolysis equipment to the feedstock production fields to produce bio-oil. The concept is to use mobile pyrolysis units to convert low-density biomass to high-density bio-oil to minimize feedstock transportation costs. A recently published GIS program was used to assess feedstock availability for mobile pyrolysis units in the North Central (NC) region using GIS databases. The feedstocks chosen for this study were corn stover, energy sorghum, and switchgrass. The GIS program identified optimum locations for mobile pyrolysis stations based on feedstock availability and calculated the routes and distances between the optimum pyrolysis stations. The GIS program utilized a harvest grid concept with the mobile pyrolysis unit located in the center of a square grid cell. It was assumed that the mobile pyrolysis units would move on discrete time steps of 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 months (stationary). The harvest grid sizes ranged from 2.4 to 9.6 km for corn stover, from 5.0 to 23.0 km for energy sorghum, and from 3.3 to 12.0 km for switchgrass, depending on move times. In the NC region, the distances required to move the mobile pyrolysis unit from one location to the next varied from 2.1 to 138.7 km for corn stover, from 4.4 to 81.0 km for energy sorghum, and from 3.0 to 60.7 km for switchgrass. The distances required to transport bio-oil to the closest oil refineries ranged from 81.0 to 195.0 km for corn stover, from 365.0 to 522.0 km for energy sorghum, and from 192 to 265 km for switchgrass. Using these optimized feedstock logistics, a total of 14,825,993 barrels (2,357,144,597 L) of bio-oil could be produced by 853 mobile pyrolysis units using 25% of the corn stover in Illinois. In Nebraska, 469,287 barrels (74,610,673 L) of bio-oil could be produced by 27 mobile units using energy sorghum, and 903,812 barrels (143,694,630 L) of bio-oil could be produced by 52 mobile units using switchgrass.

published proceedings

  • Transactions of the ASABE

author list (cited authors)

  • Ha, M., Munster, C. L., & Provin, T. L

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Ha, M||Munster, CL||Provin, TL

publication date

  • August 2014