Supply and Value Chain Analysis of Mixed Biomass Feedstock Supply System for Lignocellulosic Sugar Production

Ryan Davis, Nawa Baral, Thomas Bradley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus Citations


The sustainable supply of high-quality, low-cost biomass feedstock to cellulosic biorefineries is still a challenge. Utilizing corn stover as the single feedstock to a biorefinery also poses a source of risk to seasonal feedstock availability, affordability, and sustainability. Implementing a year-round feedstock switching strategy or utilizing an optimal mixture of corn stover, miscanthus, and switchgrass is demonstrated to diminish these concerns while reducing the cost of sugar production by as much as 3.8% and 13.6%, respectively, when compared to a baseline sugar price of 441.9 $ metric ton −1 (t) attributed to a fixed corn stover feedstock basis. This study determines that a mixing ratio of corn stover, miscanthus, and switchgrass of 36%, 50%, and 14%, respectively, minimizes the selling price of sugar. If miscanthus is sufficiently available in the future, its fraction could be further increased to 70% by reducing the fraction of corn stover. We find that the mixed feedstock considered in this study reduces the nutrient replacement and feedstock transportation costs and improves the quality of feedstock (determined by total carbohydrates and ash) relative to corn stover alone. Results suggest that a high-quality feedstock with a high carbohydrate content is an important metric for consideration, beyond strictly the feedstock cost, to reduce the selling price of sugar and its uncertainties. In the future this may be supported by the increased availability of higher carbohydrate feedstocks such as miscanthus.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)635-659
Number of pages25
JournalBiofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Society of Chemical Industry and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5100-72895


  • biochemical conversion
  • biomass blending
  • fermentable sugars
  • mixed biomass feedstock
  • storage
  • supply chain analysis
  • transportation


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