THE STANDARDS FOR BIOMASS SUPPLY CHAIN RISK

5.1.1 FEEDSTOCK QUALITY AT PRODUCTION SCALE

Rationale

The physical and chemical properties of feedstock used in lab, pilot and field testing can fail to be representative of feedstock generated by large-scale operations.

It is important to conduct tests on feedstock representative of that which will be produced by large- scale operations. Failure to adequately test the full range of parameter values can result in severe problems during scale-up.

Reporting

Reporting Requirements

  1. Lab and field tests should utilize feedstock that accurately represents feedstock variability of scale operations. Experimental design for field-scale tests should reflect all ranges of individual, and combination of, parameter values being tested.
Guidance

Guidance for Reporting Requirement 1

Document all sampling methodology, samples and ranges used, test conditions and results, as evidence for viable scale-up.

Guidance Source

Nguyen (2017, interview); Smith (2017, interview)

5.1.2 CAPACITY OF SUPPLY CHAIN COMPONENTS AND INFRASTRUCTURE TO SCALE

Rationale

Scale-up risk increases if supply chain components, or underlying feedstock infrastructure necessary for these components, cannot scale to handle Proponent feedstock requirements and throughput capacity. Capacity to scale should be demonstrated.

Reporting

Reporting Requirements

Proponent shall demonstrate that:

  1. Throughput rates and efficiencies of each supply chain component are adequate for proposed plant scale
  2. Necessary underlying infrastructure component capacities are adequate for proposed plant scale.

Reporting Recommendations

  1. The bio-refinery plant size and design should be optimized with the feedstock availability.
Guidance

Guidance for Reporting Requirement 1

Supply chain components should include (as applicable) planting, harvesting, densification, pre- processing, storage and transport.

Pre-processing refers to mechanical or chemical processes in which biomass may undergo size reduction, drying, ash removal, densification or other operations to convert feedstock to required quality, shape and other specifications.

Guidance for Reporting Requirement 2

Underlying infrastructure components should include (as applicable) land base, roads, equipment, labour, weather, regulatory and social environments.

Guidance for Reporting Recommendation 2

Proponent plant size should be aligned with the feedstock availability and other relevant factors. According to Miao et al. (2013), feedstock pre-processing, and supply and storage systems need to be aligned with the biofuel plant size and its choice of pre-treatment and conversion technology, as well as the feedstock type, geography and climate.

Large-scale operations run higher risks of feedstock delivery because of potential shortage of trucks and drivers, higher costs of satellite storage, and multiple handling steps (Nguyen 2018). Based on the feedstock throughput rate and bio-refinery processes, computer-based models can be used to size, design and cost the bio-refinery operation (see models developed by Gebreslassie et al. (2012) and Chen et al. (2012)).

Guidance Source

Chen et al. (2012); Gebreslassie et al. (2012); Malik (2017, interview); Miao et al. (2013); Passmore (2017, interview); Solomon (2019, interview)

5.1.3 ROLE OF DENSIFICATION AND PRE-PROCESSING

Rationale

Non-homogeneity of feedstock can be a major risk during plant scale-up. Densification and pre- processing of feedstock can de-risk scale-up by reducing feedstock variability through size reduction, drying, ash removal, densification, pelletization, or other unit operations to convert feedstock to required quality, shape and other specifications.

Projects relying upon pre-processing (particularity in the form of pellets with consistent physical and chemical properties and high durability) have fewer quality, homogeneity and flowability issues.

Reporting

Reporting Requirements

  1. The type of pre-processing and densification shall be identified (e.g., baling, pelletizing or briquetting) including whether densification or pre-processing is done by suppliers or Proponent, and types of equipment used.
  2. Proponent shall verify steady operation of all steps of the pre-processing operation at scale.
  3. The bounds of variability of key quality specification variables post-pre-processing or densification shall be identified.
  4. The ratio of densified or pre-processed feedstock to natural feedstock shall be determined, and such ratios shall be shown to be suitable and appropriately applied to the Proponent.
Guidance

Guidance for Reporting Requirement 1

Densification and pelletization for different herbaceous biomass types at different moisture contents have been successfully tested at INL. INL has shown the efficacy of producing pellets at moisture contents ranging from 10-30% using corn stover.

Guidance for Reporting Requirement 3

Densification has been tested for numerous feedstocks with different physical and chemical properties at Idaho National Laboratory (INL) (Tumuluru 2018). Results are available to the public.

Guidance Source

Dujmovic (2019, feedback); Solomon (2019, interview); Tumuluru (2018, interview)

5.1.4 LAB-SCALE, PILOT-SCALE AND FIELD SCALE TESTING

Rationale

Where feedstock supply chains need to be developed, it is necessary to establish applicability, feasibility and practicality at commercial scale with lab-scale, pilot-scale and, preferably, field-scale testing.

Reporting

Reporting Requirements

Proponent shall identify:

  1. Results of lab-scale testing
  2. Results of pilot-scale testing
  3. Results of field-scale testing.
Guidance

Guidance for Reporting Requirement 1

Edwards (2015) presents the stage-gate approach for scaling-up biofuel technologies from lab or bench-scale to commercial scales, and how the scaling factors in bioenergy applications differ from traditional chemical process industries. This is a valuable resource in understanding how the challenges related to handling solids and processing fluids in bioenergy processes can be addressed systematically from lab to commercialization. He identifies conditions under which scaling-up can occur directly from batch to commercial scale, and when scaling up should follow lab to pilot to demonstration to commercial-scale.

Guidance for Reporting Requirement 2

Lab or bench-scale testing should be followed by pilot-scale testing. Pilot-scale tests elevate the typical batch process under lab-scale to batch, semi-continuous, or continuous processes, as desired, and depending on the process being tested. Tests should ensure that consistency exists between lab and pilot-scales; that any cost estimates conducted at production levels are consistent with results from lab and pilot tests; and that assumptions made for scale-up are valid.

Pilot-scale tests should mimic a real-application environment to the extent possible, and should elicit statistically significant results.

Guidance for Reporting Requirement 3

Pilot-scale testing shall be followed by field-scale demonstrations. Data should be collected to show evidence of feasibility of scale-up to operational level.

Experimental designs for field-scale tests should be cognizant of variabilities in different parameters, and should reflect all ranges of individual and combined parameter values being tested. Failure to adequately test the full range of feedstock parameter values could result in severe problems during actual operations and increases in operating costs.

For novel equipment used in the field or forest, manufacturers should be able to demonstrate the ability of the equipment to operat at the desired scale.

Guidance Source

Edwards (2015); Nguyen, (2017, interview)

5.1.5 FACILITY START-UP DELAYS

Rationale

If facility not start-up does not take place in the timeline originally indicated to suppliers, supply contracts may be terminated or breached.

Reporting

Reporting Requirements

1.             If start-up has been significantly delayed, Proponent shall demonstrate that supply contracts are still valid and that danger of breach or termination is nominal.

Guidance
Guidance Source

Carollo (2017, interview); Nguyen (2017, interview)