MIXED METHODS RESEARCH OF INTEGRATED CELLULOSIC BIOREFINERY (ICBR) SCALE-UP BARRIERS IN THE UNITED STATES: A CASE STUDY

Min Chen, Paul M. Smith

Abstract


Second generation (cellulosic) biofuels provide an attractive solution to reduce the dependence on fossil fuels and to address concerns about competition with food crops and land use change confronting the U.S. first generation biofuels. However, the production of cellulosic biofuels has not yet become widely commercialized. The integrated production of cellulosic biofuels and biochemicals; that is, the integrated cellulosic biorefinery (ICBR), offers an opportunity to effectively utilize feedstock fractions, diversify value stream outputs, improve financial performance, and mitigate risks. A dearth of literature exists addressing potential barriers to the scale-up of this industry. Thus, this study deployed a mixed methods approach with an initial qualitative phase for construct development followed by a quantitative phase for construct confirmation and validity. In phase I, a qualitative e-Survey with eighteen academic and industrial experts collated a list of eight barriers to the scale up of the ICBR. In phase II, 228 experts (34% response rate) responded to the quantitative surveys. RATING results, validated by RANKING results, showed that competition vs. petro-chemicals, high production costs, and policy uncertainty represented the top three barriers to the U.S. ICBRs scale-up. Also, our eighteen Phase I experts indicated that consistent government funding & incentives and, to a lesser extent, new technology development and education of end-use consumer will be required for solving these barriers.  Overall, results highlight the mixed methods exploratory research approach and contribute to extant debates on the future commercial development of the U.S. ICBR.


Keywords


Integrated cellulosic biorefinery; cellulosic biofuels; energy security; food vs. fuel; Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS); mixed methods research

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References


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