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Supply chain configuration for biomass‐to‐energy: the case of torrefaction

Martin Svanberg (Department of Technology Management and Economics, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden)
Árni Halldórsson (Department of Technology Management and Economics, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden)

International Journal of Energy Sector Management

ISSN: 1750-6220

Article publication date: 5 April 2013

903

Abstract

Purpose

One way of overcoming logistics barriers (poor transportation, handling and storage properties) towards increased utilisation of biomass is to introduce a pre‐treatment process such as torrefaction early in the biomass‐to‐energy supply chain. Torrefaction offers a range of potentially beneficial logistics properties but the actual benefits depend upon how the supply chain is configured to address various elements of customer demand. Hence, the aim of this paper is to develop a framework for torrefaction configuration in a supply chain perspective for different types of customers.

Design/methodology/approach

Sophisticated pre‐treatment processes are yet to reach the commercialisation phase. Identification of possible supply chain configurations is in this paper done through a conceptual approach by bringing together knowledge from related research fields such as unrefined forest fuel, pellets and coal logistics with prescriptions for configuration derived from the subject area of supply chain management (SCM).

Findings

A framework that explicates different elements of supply and demand of torrefaction is proposed, and exemplified by three distinct supply chains. Depending on demand, torrefaction serves different purposes, bridging gaps in place, time, quality and ownership. Furthermore, different supply chain configurations will pose different requirements on torrefaction in terms of producing different product quality, durability, energy density and hydrophobicity of the pellets.

Research limitations/implications

The proposed framework entails a set of propositions, but requires further development through empirical studies using complementary research methods such as interviews or surveys and quantification through techno‐economical or optimisation from a supply chain perspective.

Practical implications

This paper provides a framework that can inform decisions makers in biomass‐to‐energy supply chains, in particular at torrefaction plants, on upstream and downstream implications of their decisions.

Originality/value

The findings have implications for biomass‐to‐energy supply chains in general, and in particular, the paper provides a supply chain perspective of pre‐treatment processes, where previous research has focused primarily on technical aspects of torrefaction.

Keywords

Citation

Svanberg, M. and Halldórsson, Á. (2013), "Supply chain configuration for biomass‐to‐energy: the case of torrefaction", International Journal of Energy Sector Management, Vol. 7 No. 1, pp. 65-83. https://doi.org/10.1108/17506221311316489

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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