This study analyzes the effects of N
fertilizer application rates on profitability of growing switchgrass and using the feedstock in a pyrolysis biorefinery facility to create a source of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) supply in Tennessee. Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum
L.) is a perennial bunchgrass native to North America with traits suitable for biofuel and co-product production. Previous chemical analysis has shown that ash content in switchgrass is related to the amount of nitrogen applied to the field, while at the biorefinery level, the percentage ash content reduces the biorefinery fuel output. To obtain optimal nitrogen (N
) application rates for the switchgrass producers and the biorefinery, a two-part analysis is employed. First, a partial budgeting profitability analysis is conducted for this cropping enterprise at the farm-gate level without considering downstream implications of biomass quality, i.e., ash content. Second, the effects of higher ash content as a percentage of the feedstock on biorefinery output are analyzed. Results show farm-gate profit is maximized when N
fertilizer is applied at 111 kg/ha, while as a result of increased production levels and decreased percentage ash content, biorefinery profit is maximized when N
is applied at 157 kg/ha. Lower ash could lead to premium prices paid to switchgrass producers if higher quality feedstock were to be demanded as part of an integrated biofuel industry.
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