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ASCENT

The goal of this project is to support the development of a national sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and coproduct industry. The SAF will require biomass feedstock and a supply chain pathway. To achieve this goal, the project will quantify and characterize biomass feedstock nationwide and develop optimal aviation biofuel and coproduct supply chains that are region specific. Currently, beside a national evaluation of the nation’s potential to produce bioenergy from herbaceous and woody crops and residues using a national agricultural simulation model, POLYSYS, the goal is to construct regional SAF deployment plans. The initial deployment efforts will focus on the Nashville and Memphis areas utilizing oilseed cover crops as a feedstock with HEFA conversion technology, the Southeast region using softwood as a feedstock and the Central Appalachian region (CAR) using hardwoods. The key output of each of these projects will be crafted underutilized human and natural resource assets. The development plan will be anchored to metrics that gauge the potential impacts of the industry’s development on the supply of aviation biofuels and on regional economic, social, and human indicators.

The core components of the project include:

  • Quantification, characterization, and determination of the sustainability of selected feedstocks for prespecified pathways;
  • Definition of biofuel and coproduct pathways that leverage the private, National Forest, and previously mined lands;
  • Assessment of market opportunities for the feedstock, aviation biofuels, and coproducts;
  • Economic valuation of analysis of the identified pathways including regional economic impacts; and
  • Development of spatial measures of regional social capital critical to developing an aviation biofuel and coproducts industry in the CAR.

Several Pathways have developed and analysis has begun.  These pathways include:

Decision Tools – Switchgrass, pennycress, camelina, and carinata herbaceous crop enterprise budgets, hybrid poplar 6 year and 3 year with coppice assumed enterprise budgets