IBSS Partnership Highlights: Woody Biomass, Switchgrass, and Large-Scale Poplar Demonstration

March 3, 2016

Woody Biomass Production and Quality

During harvest and handling of woody biomass, significant levels of ash are introduced into the feedstock stream. The work in IBSS has shown that physical treatment processes could reduce the ash content of forest biomass chips. Ash reduction rates of 65%, 35% and 30% were obtained from hammer milling, followed by mixing and vibratory screening separation processes, respectively. Additional work revealed techniques for reducing the energy required for size reduction and drying. The cumulative energy requirement for drying and grinding of pine wood chips decreased by at least 15% when fresh loblolly pine chips were initially coarsely ground.

Sensitivity Analysis of Switchgrass Harvest Cost

Accurate estimates of biomass harvest cost are critical for the planning and development of the bioenergy industry. The selections of input parameters for these models are constantly changing and we must be conscious of this to maintain accurate cost estimations. The objective of this work is to perform a sensitivity analysis of switchgrass harvest cost model. Field research is expensive and a sensitivity analysis aids in designing cost effective field experiments. The results of this analysis identify the parameters that most significantly affect harvest cost and aid researchers in determining the critical parameters to be measured during harvest.

Large-Scale Hybrid Poplar Demonstration

The newest and largest field demonstration planting of hybrid poplar in Columbus, MS was established in the spring of 2014. Because mortality in the plantation was high, several acres were replanted in spring of 2015 and now appear to be on schedule for an initial harvest in Feb 2016. Our plan is to allow the site to coppice and grow through another year (possibly two) for a final harvest in the summer of 2018. During the second inventory (Nov 2015), aerial imagery and NIR was taken with a PrecisionHawk drone, giving IBSS access to new key parameters during production and harvest. The photo to the right shows RGB imagery from Columbus.

A map of the large-scale hybrid poplar demonstration is available online.

IBSS-Highlights-Columbus-MS.pdf — PDF document, 8.2 MB
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