About IBSS

IBSS was developed in 2010 in response to the USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Request for Applications for Regional Coordinated Agricultural Projects (CAP). The AFRI Sustainable Bioenergy Program priorities include sustainable agriculture, forestry, renewable energy, and rural communities and entrepreneurship. In addition, AFRI is looking for "translational research and development" that supports these priorities and delivery of "science based knowledge to people". The University of Tennessee, along with multiple academic and industrial partners, submitted the IBSS Partnership proposal in alignment with USDA AFRI CAP purpose and priorities. This Partnership will directly address those AFRI goals in a creative and integrated fashion, which will address the complexity of sustainable biofuel production, and highlight specific, real-world solutions to this complexity.

Unique Assets

The Partnership will leverage a series of ongoing projects, already in development by the partners and focused on feedstock development, production, harvesting and logistics, systems evaluation and sustainability, biorefinery conversion and product distribution. These activities collectively have estimated research and resource value in excess of $150 million. Most of the information and expertise in these ongoing projects is only available to the IBSS Partnership. A partial list of the leveraged projects and their current, past and IBSS uses are shown below:


Leveraged Asset Current & Past Use IBSS Use
Switchgrass (>5,000 acres) A component of the Tennessee Biofuels Initiative, it represents a unique laboratory that has been used to refine production systems, some ecological studies (incl., soil carbon monitoring in partnership with USDA). The only site in the country available for extensive ecological research, it is the foundation for water quality studies in the agricultural component of the program.
Biorefinery PDU A component of the Tennessee Biofuels Initiative, it represents a unique pilot facility for evaluating feedstock performance in biochemical conversion. This resource enables data collection to inform process models for production of sugars from different feedstock sources at this scale.
Biomass Innovation Park Developed, in part, by the Tennessee Biofuels Initiative and a DOE High-Tonnage grant for supply logistics. Plans are to use in switchgrass storage logistics research. This asset will be used for large-scale preprocessing research and storage studies of agricultural and forest biomass, informing decision/process/lca models on energy input and feedstock quality data.
Decision Models Extensive investment by USDA, US Forest Service, DOE, and others have led to valuable decision models that address a suite of information needs. The IBSS will provide the first opportunity to utilize the models with recent enhancements. Also, work will involve more tightly integrating the individual models to provide comprehensive answers in a timelier manner.
Process/LCA Expertise Investment has developed versatile process analysis models and expertise in the application and use of both process and commercial LCA models. This program will expand the range of systems considered for LCA and the boundaries of the systems by integrating output from process analysis to rapidly inform LCA models.
Thermochemical Laboratory Construction of this lab with gasifier and Fischer-Tropsch reactor has just been completed to support biomass conversion program at AU Primary facility to conduct assessment of biomass performance in thermochemical conversion technologies. This is completely new information for the USDA-supported IBSS program.
Mobile Biomass Gasification Laboratory This demonstration unit is currently used for outreach programs around the region to illustrate bioenergy technology. Provides the base unit to develop small FT reactor for production of liquid fuels on the mobile platform to be used primarily in E2O activities.
ARS Southern Regional Feedstock Center USDA-ARS recently announced the creation of regional feedstock centers. The Southeast's center is comprised of agricultural (Tifton, GA) and forest (Auburn, AL) components. The head of the forest component is on the IBSS team. The IBSS will utilize this direct linkage to the region's ARS feedstock center to more effectively integrate and coordinate the programs. By eliminating duplication of effort, and identifying synergistic capacity the outcomes for the region will be broadened.
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