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Death Valley

Use of Tamarisk as a Potential Feedstock for Biofuel Production
Amy Sun1 and Kirsten Norman2
1Chemical and Biological Systems 2Materials, Devices, and Energy Technology
Sandia National Laboratories
P.O. Box 5800
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87185-MS0734
This study assesses the energy and water use of saltcedar (or tamarisk) as biomass for biofuel production in a hypothetical sub-region in New Mexico. The baseline scenario consists of a rural stretch of the Middle Rio Grande River with 25% coverage of mature saltcedar that is removed and converted to biofuels. A manufacturing system life cycle consisting of harvesting, transportation, pyrolysis, and purification is constructed for calculating energy and water balances. On a dry short ton woody biomass basis, the total energy input is approximately 8.21 mmBTU/st. There is potential for 18.82 mmBTU/st of energy output from the baseline system. Of the extractable energy, approximately 61.1% consists of bio-oil, 20.3% bio-char, and 18.6% biogas. Water consumptive use by removal of tamarisk will not impact the existing rate of evapotranspiration. However, approximately 195 gal of water is needed per short ton of woody biomass for the conversion of biomass to biocrude, three-quarters of which is cooling water that can be recovered and recycled. The impact of salt presence is briefly assessed. Not accounted for in the baseline are high concentrations of Calcium, Sodium, and Sulfur ions in saltcedar woody biomass that can potentially shift the relative quantities of bio-char and bio-oil. This can be alleviated by a pre-wash step prior to the conversion step. More study is needed to account for the impact of salt presence on the overall energy and water balance.