Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

First Advisor

Matthew Darr


Renewable fuel production is essential to improve the energy independence of the United States. Cellulosic ethanol is renewable fuel that is gaining traction in the commercial fuels industry. This fuel can be made from agricultural residues and dedicated energy crops widely available in the Midwestern United States. The biofuels industry is already moving to meet these federal biofuels mandates and to establish sustainable biomass feedstock supply chains. Two companies have scheduled to build dedicated cellulosic ethanol refineries in Iowa. This initial phase of a biofuels supply chain is currently in its infancy and will require significant efficiency improvements and enhancement to current methods to ensure profitability. The resulting harvest costs, transportation costs and material quality all have significant impact on the cellulosic ethanol industry.

The objective of the first chapter of this thesis was to determine the best method for semi-automated and large scale analysis of machinery management parameters. Electronic data logging of GPS position and CAN messages provides the timing and operational status needed for calculation of machinery management terms. Additional information like fuel rate, engine speed, hydraulic flow, or specific implement parameters can also be captured. This data enables detailed performance evaluation. GIS software was used to query the dataset. Appropriate spatial selections and parameter filters were defined for each performance parameter. This ensured measurement of productivity terms in conformance to ASABE Machinery Management Standards.

The objective of the second chapter was to quantify and provide detailed information on the performance of corn stover collection equipment during industrial scale harvest operations. Current equipment developed for the hay and forage industry can be used to harvest corn stover. Understanding the performance characteristics of this repurposed forage equipment is critically important for the continued development of the cellulosic ethanol industry. Two windrowers, two square balers, and a bale collection system were evaluated as part of a 2010 partial corn stover residue harvest. An examination of machine operation allows researchers to calculate management parameters like field capacity, field efficiency, and fuel consumption.

The combined methods and results developed and reported in these articles can be used to aid with equipment selection, develop economic models, and help managers estimate operating costs associated with process scale up. With accurate performance data on specific equipment, modelers can evaluate the impact of different harvesting scenarios. This can help certify that the prescribed and implement methods are practical, achievable, and sustainable.


Copyright Owner

Kevin Scott Peyton



File Format


File Size

77 pages