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Economics of Ethanol Production Using Feedstock from Slash Pine (Pinus elliottii) Plantations in the Southern United States

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A growing interest in cellulosic biofuels, coupled with the economic challenges faced by nonindustrial private forestland (NIPF) owners of the Southern United States, presents a unique opportunity to use forest biomass as a feedstock for developing bioenergy markets. This study uses a cost-benefit analysis framework to calculate the profitability for three simulated NIPF slash pine (Pinus elliottii) plantations under multiple feedstock production levels. Also, the unit cost of cellulosic ethanol production considering both the two-stage dilute sulfuric acid (2SDSA) and proposed synthesis gas ethanol catalytic conversion (SGECC) processes is calculated through a discounted cash flow methodology. The results show that the bioenergy market opportunity increases land values by $28.56‐37.50/ac. The calculated unit cost of production is found to be $2.39/gallon under the 2SDSA process and $1.16/gallon for the SGECC process. The overall analysis indicates that ethanol production from Southern slash pine plantations offers a promising option for biofuel production, but that further advancements are necessary in the ethanol conversion phase.

Keywords: Faustmann model; bioenergy development; nonindustrial private forests; unit production cost

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-05-01

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  • Each regional journal of applied forestry focuses on research, practice, and techniques targeted to foresters and allied professionals in specific regions of the United States and Canada. The Southern Journal of Applied Forestry covers an area from Virginia and Kentucky south to as far west as Oklahoma and east Texas.
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