All of the operations in current feedstock supply systems are already functional today. These systems exist to supply virtually any cellulosic feedstock to a biorefinery facility, and most of the equipment is functioning in the forage, specialty crop, and/or forest products industries. As such, there are no shortages of conceptual designs for moving biomass feedstocks from the field to the biorefinery. Rather, the challenges for feedstock supply systems are to:
The logistical issues of feedstock supply systems are reasonably well-understood, and it is generally recognized that supply system logistics must be improved. Nevertheless, improving feedstock supply system logistics alone will not remove the most significant supply system barrier to achieving either the near- or longer- term cellulosic biofuel goals. When looking beyond a single biorefinery to an industry of biorefineries and commodity-scale cellulosic biomass supply systems, site-specific supply system logistics solutions will not be viable. For industrial-scale efficiency in the feedstock supply system, biomass handling must be minimized, and the numbers of unique types of equipment necessary to transport the various forms of cellulosic biomass from the field or forest to the biorefinery must be reduced. Achieving these biofuel goals can only be accomplished through development of a highly efficient commodity-like feedstock supply system consisting of modularized harvesting and preprocessing equipment that can be adapted to the diversity of feedstocks and yet connect to uniform commodity-scale receiving systems of “standardized” and highly replicable biorefinery designs.