Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

First Advisor

Matthew Darr


Cellulosic ethanol is becoming a reality in the Midwestern United States. Currently there are three plants in the Midwest that are utilizing agricultural residues as the primary feedstock for ethanol production. Together, these plants are going to require more than 900,000 metric tons (1 million tons) of biomass each year in order to be operational at full capacity. A single 113 million liter (30 million gallon) per year cellulosic ethanol plant, utilizing corn stover as the main feedstock, will require 340,000 metric tons (375,000 tons) per year (DuPont, 2012). This amount of corn stover will require approximately 700,000 large square bales of corn stover to be harvested from nearly 77,000 hectares (190,000 ares) (DuPont, 2012).

In order for these plants to be successful, the harvesting and transportation operations, which supply the feedstock, must reduce their current costs. With the current estimated costs of harvest and transportation of corn stover at $90.8/metric ton ($82.4/ton), it is estimated that this cost could be reduced by nearly fifty percent with improvements and optimization of the supply chain (Shah A. , 2013). The current supply chain is very widespread and involves hundreds of pieces of equipment that must all work together, and as efficiently as possible, to harvest the needed material in the narrow fall harvest window.

This research focuses on the bale stacking operations and the associated equipment, as well as over-the-road transportation of the biomass from the field. The data for this research was collected on over 32,000 hectares (80,000 acres) during the 2014 harvest season. The goal of this research is to provide biomass harvesters, transporters, and cellulosic biorefineries crucial information in near real-time to assist in supply chain optimization.

Copyright Owner

Ryan William Bergman



File Format


File Size

75 pages