Storage dynamics and lignocellulosic degradation in industrial biomass storage

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Bearden, Rachel
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American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers
Darr, Matthew
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Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Since 1905, the Department of Agricultural Engineering, now the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABE), has been a leader in providing engineering solutions to agricultural problems in the United States and the world. The department’s original mission was to mechanize agriculture. That mission has evolved to encompass a global view of the entire food production system–the wise management of natural resources in the production, processing, storage, handling, and use of food fiber and other biological products.

In 1905 Agricultural Engineering was recognized as a subdivision of the Department of Agronomy, and in 1907 it was recognized as a unique department. It was renamed the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering in 1990. The department merged with the Department of Industrial Education and Technology in 2004.

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  • Department of Agricultural Engineering (1907–1990)

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Industrial producers of biorenewable products require an economically stable biomass feedstock in order to compete with petroleum based products. All components of the supply chain (harvest, transportation, and storage) must each be implemented at the lowest cost. This research is focused on reducing the storage cost of baled corn stover. Uncovered field-edge storage of baled corn stover may be cheaper than aggregated satellite storage, because field-edge storage eliminates material cost to tarp stacks as well as level, drain, and lay a rock base on undeveloped land. Furthermore, field-edge storage eliminates transportation to a satellite location, significantly reducing the total transportation cost. Offsetting these beneficial cost savings is the potential degradation of field-edge storage, due to lessened protection. This paper focuses on evaluating the tradeoff of reduced storage cost to increased cost associated with loss of material and decreased material quality. Production scale stacks of bales were monitored to evaluate commercial scale degradation within field edge storage for various methods of coverage. Dynamic trends of degradation were monitored using a thermistor temperature logging system and real time vertical temperature profiles were generated to evaluate the spread of microbial activity within the bale stacks. Weather data and moisture sampling results indicate that temperature shifts within the bale stacks coincided with rainfall events and increased moisture content. Deconstruction of the stacks generated final moisture profiles and permitted assessments of dry matter loss after one year of storage. The trends and profiles developed from these findings were used to assess the impact of degradation on the feedstock contribution of ethanol production cost (FCEPC).
This presentation is published as Darr, Matthew J., Keith Webster, and Rachel Bearden. "Storage dynamics and lignocellulosic degradation in industrial biomass storage." In 2018 ASABE Annual International Meeting, p. 1. American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, 2018. ASABE meeting paper No. 1800219. St. Joseph, Michigan: ASABE. DOI: 10.13031/aim.201800219. Copyright 2018 American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. Posted with permission.