Transportation Infrastructure Implications of Development of a Cellulose Ethanol Industry for Indiana

The 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act calls for the US to produce 36 billion gallons of biofuels by 2022 of which no more than 15 billion would come from corn and 1 billion of biodiesel. Thus, the legislation envisions moving from no cellulose ethanol production today to as much as 20 billion gallons by 2022. In this research project, the authors estimate the transport system impacts of different levels of cellulose production in Indiana. A scenario approach is used for the transport of cellulosic materials to central plants. Transporting cellulose materials to a central processing plant requires more bulk material than for a corn ethanol plant. The authors use an integer programming model to locate and size cellulosic plants in Indiana. This model optimizes plant location given the potential cellulosic production from corn stover and other cellulosic inputs in each part of the state. Cellulose supply curves are developed for each sub‐region in the state. The authors introduce different scenarios of cellulose development to compare with the base case of no cellulosic ethanol production. The growth of the ethanol industry could be a major mechanism for rural economic development, especially in Region V. Cellulosic ethanol will provide the opportunity for farmers to sell agricultural waste such as corn stover, in addition to growing dedicated energy crops on less desirable land. The emergence of this cellulose‐based ethanol industry will create a number of new transportation needs in Region V, along with new business opportunities for transportation firms. The development of a commercial cellulosic biofuels industry in biomass rich states such as Indiana would likely cause substantial impacts on road infrastructure. The authors assume that 100 percent of the biomass needed for the future cellulosic plants will be sourced locally, thus requiring the use of semi trucks to transport the biomass from the fields to centralized cellulosic biofuel facilities. This research took a case study approach to estimating the infrastructure impacts of cellulosic biofuel production by projecting the impacts of three selected Indiana cellulosic facility sites. The study produced the following key results: (1) Average loaded vehicle trip miles (VTM) are projected to be 201 to 683 percent higher per gallon of cellulosic biofuel capacity compared to the VTM per gallon of capacity for grain based ethanol. (2) Average ton‐miles per gallon of capacity for cellulosic biofuel production is projected to be 98 to 432 percent higher compared to the average ton‐mile for grain based ethanol (3) The average length of haul (LOH) required to source an adequate supply of biomass will increase as more plants are built in a given region. Thus, the first commercial plant built should have the smallest infrastructure impact.

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  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the Department of Transportation, University Transportation Centers Program.
  • Corporate Authors:


    Purdue University
    3000 Kent Avenue
    Lafayette, IN  United States  47906-1075

    Research and Innovative Technology Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Authors:
    • Tyner, Wallace
    • Rismiller, Craig
  • Publication Date: 2009-10-15


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Print
  • Edition: Final Report
  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 67p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01149525
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: NEXTRANS Project No. 016PY01
  • Contract Numbers: DTRT07‐G‐005 (Grant)
  • Files: UTC, TRIS, USDOT
  • Created Date: Jan 19 2010 2:50PM