Here is a challenging class room assignment: map out where you would process slash piles from forest harvest into valuable chemical products and justify your answer. Where to begin?
First you would need to know where the slash piles are, the amount available annually, and have an understanding of the technology available to convert them into chemical products. Second, you would have to understand the transportation options available for the region. Finally, in order to “justify” your answer, you would want to include an economically and socially sustainable reasoning for your selection. Oh, and the final classroom requirement is to make your information relevant to the business community and to NARA.
This was the assignment given to the Integrated Design Studio (IDX) course at Washington State University. The IDX course focuses on real projects that require multiple disciplines and involves undergraduate and graduate students from Washington State University and the University of Idaho. They recently presented their findings in a webinar that is available for public viewing.
The Nov. 19th IDX webinar can be viewed here.
Ranking facility types
Students in IDX’s 2014 fall semester worked in teams and focused on four facility types: solids depot, liquids depot, conversion facility and integrated biorefinery. The solids, liquid and conversion facilities are envisioned to handle a specific conversion process within the supply chain for converting forest residuals into biojet fuel. For instance, a solids depot is designed to store and process forest residuals for transport to a conversion facility. An integrated biorefinery would accommodate all processes from handling the forest residuals to producing biojet fuel and other products.
In the webinar, the students describe each of these facility types and their requirements. They then illustrate how the facility sites in Oregon and Washington were ranked for each facility type based a variety of weighted factors including biomass availability, existing facilities, transportation access, utility costs, social acceptance and labor costs. The webinar concludes with a listing of recommended facility sites for each facility type.
Regional stakeholders involved with the NARA project were invited to the webinar, and over 40 persons attended. During he webinar, many of the viewers had questions and comments. Some had expertise or information that was offered for the analysis. Others expressed an interest to use the methodology of this analysis for site selection projects in regions outside of the Pacific Northwest. Questions covered environmental permits to facility sites in other states like Idaho and Montana.
The methodology used to rank the facility sites was unique, particularly regarding how siting factors were weighted and the use of social acceptability ranking methods being developed by NARA researchers.
Most of the students from this past semester will return to the IDX coarse in the Spring 2015 semester. Then the group will extend their analysis to other areas in the WA, OR, ID, and MT region. In addition, they will provide feasibility analyses and design concepts for high-ranking facility sites that can be modified to contribute to a wood residual to biojet supply chain. Plus, the group will extend their siting analyses to tribal lands that offer unique opportunities for funding and product contracting.
“These students perform critical data gathering and analyses for the NARA project”, says Tammi Laninga, one of three IDX course instructors and member of NARA’s Education Team. “Their work will be incorporated into a final supply chain analysis that covers Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana”. Much of this work will be presented on the NARA website that covers the Mid-Cascade to Pacific (MC2P) project.
The 2013-2014 IDX course performed a similar site selection analysis for a region in western Montana, northern Idaho and eastern Washington called the Western Montana Corridor (WMC) project.
Information regarding the developing Mid-Cascades to Pacific (MC2P) analysis can be viewed here.
Information regarding the Western Montana Corridor (WMC) analysis can be viewed here.