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Long-term sustainability of fracture conductivity is critical for commercial success of engineered geothermal system (EGS) and hydrogeothermal field sites. The injection of proppants has been suggested as a means to enhance the conductivity in these systems. Several studies have examined the chemical behavior of proppants that are not at chemical equilibrium with the reservoir rock and water. These studies have suggested that in geothermal systems, geochemical reactions can lead to enhance proppant dissolution and deposition alteration minerals. We hypothesize that proppant dissolution will decrease the strength of the proppant and can potentially reduce the conductivity of the fracture. To examine the geomechanical strength of proppants, we have performed modified crushing tests of proppants and reservoir rock material that was subjected to geothermal reservoir temperature conditions. The batch reactor experiments heated crushed quartz monzonite rock material, proppants (either quartz sand, sintered bauxite or kryptospheres) with Raft River geothermal water to 250 ºC for a period of 2 months. Solid and liquid samples were shipped to University of Utah for chemical characterization with ICP-OES, ICP-MS, and SEM. A separate portion of the rock/proppant material was subjected to a modified American Petroleum Institute ISO 13503-2 proppant crushing test. This test is typically used to determine the maximum stress level that can be applied to a proppant pack without the occurrence of unacceptable proppant crushing. We will use the test results to examine potential changes in proppant/reservoir rock geomechanical properties as compared to samples that have not been subjected to geothermal conditions. These preliminary results will be used to screen the proppants for long term use in EGS and hot hydrogeothermal systems.
There are three objectives for this project: 1) support OBP in meeting MYPP stated performance goals for the Sustainability Platform, 2) develop integrated feedstock production system designs that increase total productivity of the land, decrease delivered feedstock cost to the conversion facilities, and increase environmental performance of the production system, and 3) deliver to the bioenergy community robust datasets and flexible analysis tools for establishing sustainable and viable use of agricultural residues and dedicated energy crops. The key project outcome to date has been the development and deployment of a sustainable agricultural residue removal decision support framework. The modeling framework has been used to produce a revised national assessment of sustainable residue removal potential. The national assessment datasets are being used to update national resource assessment supply curves using POLYSIS. The residue removal modeling framework has also been enhanced to support high fidelity sub-field scale sustainable removal analyses. The framework has been deployed through a web application and a mobile application. The mobile application is being used extensively in the field with industry, research, and USDA NRCS partners to support and validate sustainable residue removal decisions. The results detailed in this report have set targets for increasing soil sustainability by focusing on primary soil quality indicators (total organic carbon and erosion) in two agricultural residue management pathways and a dedicated energy crop pathway. The two residue pathway targets were set to, 1) increase residue removal by 50% while maintaining soil quality, and 2) increase soil quality by 5% as measured by Soil Management Assessment Framework indicators. The energy crop pathway was set to increase soil quality by 10% using these same indicators. To demonstrate the feasibility and impact of each of these targets, seven case studies spanning the US are presented. The analysis has shown that the feedstock production systems are capable of simultaneously increasing productivity and soil sustainability.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) aims to displace 30% of the 2004 gasoline use (60 billion gal/yr) with biofuels by 2030 as outlined in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which will require 700 million tons of biomass to be sustainably delivered to biorefineries annually. Lignocellulosic biomass will make an important contribution towards meeting DOE’s ethanol production goals. For the biofuels industry to be an economically viable enterprise, the feedstock supply system (i.e., moving the biomass from the field to the refinery) cannot contribute more that 30% of the total cost of the biofuel production. The Idaho National Laboratory in collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, University of California, Davis and Kansas State University are developing a set of tools for identifying economical, sustainable feedstocks on a regional basis based on biorefinery siting.
What does Sustainability mean, and why should people in the thermophysical properties business care? This paper will describe sustainability in the context of product development, which is where much of the buzz is currently being generated. Once described, it will discuss how expectations for Sustainability are changing product lines, and then discuss the controversial issues now emerging from trying to measure Sustainability. One of the most organized efforts in the U.S. is the U.S. Green Building Council revolutionizing how the built environment is conceptualized, designed, built, used, and disposed of - and born again. The appeal of the US Green Building Council is that it has managed to checklist how to "do" Sustainability. By following this checklist, better described as a rating system, a more Sustainable product should be achieved. That is, a product that uses less energy, less water, is less noxious to the user, and consumes fewer resources. We care because these Sustainable products are viewed as preferable by a growing number of consumers and, consequently, are more valuable. One of the most interesting aspects of the Sustainability movement is a quantitative assessment of how sustainable a product is. Life Cycle Assessment techniques (not to be confused with life cycle economic costs) developed since the early 1990s are gaining ground as a less biased method to measure the ultimate "bad" consequences of creating a product (depletion of natural resources, nutrification, acid rain, air borne particulates, solid waste, etc.). For example, one assertion is that these studies have shown that recycling can sometimes do more environmental harm than good.
The DOE Biomass Program recently implemented the Biofuels Initiative, or 30x30 program, with the dual goal of reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil by making cellulosic ethanol cost competitive with gasoline by 2012 and by replacing 30 percent of gasoline consumption with biofuels by 2030. Experience to date with increasing ethanol production suggests that it distorts agricultural markets and therefore raises concerns about the sustainability of the DOE 30 X 30 effort: Can the U.S. agricultural system produce sufficient feedstocks for biofuel production and meet the food price and availability expectations of American consumers without causing environmental degradation that would curtail the production of both food and fuel? Efforts are underway to develop computer-based modeling tools that address this concern and support the DOE 30 X 30 goals. Beyond technical agronomic and economic concerns, however, such models must account for the publics’ growing interest in sustainable agriculture and in the mitigation of predicted global climate change. This paper discusses ongoing work at the Center for Advanced Energy Studies that investigates the potential consequences and long-term sustainability of projected biomass harvests by identifying and incorporating “sustainable harvest indicators” in a computer modeling strategy.
Emerging cellulosic bioenergy markets can provide land managers with additional options for crop production decisions. Integrating dedicated bioenergy crops such as perennial grasses and short rotation woody species within the agricultural landscape can have positive impacts on several environmental processes including increased soil organic matter in degraded soils, reduced sediment loading in watersheds, lower green house gas (GHG) fluxes, and reduced nutrient loading in watersheds. Implementing this type of diverse bioenergy production system in a way that maximizes potential environmental benefits requires a dynamic integrated modeling and data management strategy. This paper presents a strategy for designing diverse bioenergy cropping systems within the existing row crop production landscape in the midwestern United States. The integrated model developed quantifies a wide range environmental processes including soil erosion from wind and water, soil organic matter changes, and soil GHG fluxes within a geospatial data management framework. This framework assembles and formats information from multiple spatial and temporal scales. The data assembled includes yield and productivity data from harvesting equipment at the 1m scale, surface topography data from LiDAR mapping at the less than 1m scale, soil data from US soil survey databases at the 10m to 100m scale, and climate data at the county scale. These models and data tools are assembled into an integrated computational environment that is used to determine sustainable removal rates for agricultural residues for bioenergy production at the sub-field scale under a wide range of land management practices. Using this integrated model, innovative management practices including cover cropping are then introduced and evaluated for their impact on bioenergy production and important environmental processes. The impacts of introducing dedicated energy crops onto high-risk landscape positions currently being manage in row crop production are also investigated.
Agriculture can simultaneously address global food, feed, fiber, and energy challenges provided our soil, water, and air resources are not compromised in doing so. As we embark on the 19th Triennial Conference of the International Soil and Tillage Research Organization (ISTRO), I am pleased to proclaim that our members are well poised to lead these endeavors because of our comprehensive understanding of soil, water, agricultural and bio-systems engineering processes. The concept of landscape management, as an approach for integrating multiple bioenergy feedstock sources, including biomass residuals, into current crop production systems, is used as the focal point to show how these ever-increasing global challenges can be met in a sustainable manner. Starting with the 2005 Billion Ton Study (BTS) goals, research and technology transfer activities leading to the 2011 U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Revised Billion Ton Study (BT2) and development of a residue management tool to guide sustainable crop residue harvest will be reviewed. Multi-location USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Renewable Energy Assessment Project (REAP) team research and on-going partnerships between public and private sector groups will be shared to show the development of landscape management strategies that can simultaneously address the multiple factors that must be balanced to meet the global challenges. Effective landscape management strategies recognize the importance of nature’s diversity and strive to emulate those conditions to sustain multiple critical ecosystem services. To illustrate those services, the soil quality impact of harvesting crop residues are presented to show how careful, comprehensive monitoring of soil, water and air resources must be an integral part of sustainable bioenergy feedstock production systems. Preliminary analyses suggest that to sustain soil resources within the U.S. Corn Belt, corn (Zea mays L.) stover should not be harvested if average grain yields are less than 11 Mg ha-1 (175 bu ac-1) unless more intensive landscape management practices are implemented. Furthermore, although non-irrigated corn grain yields east and west of the primary Corn Belt may not consistently achieve the 11 Mg ha-1 yield levels, corn can still be part of an overall landscape approach for sustainable feedstock production. Another option for producers with consistently high yields (> 12.6 Mg ha-1 or 200 bu ac-1) that may enable them to sustainably harvest even more stover is to decrease their tillage intensity which will reduce fuel use, preserve rhizosphere carbon, and/or help maintain soil structure and soil quality benefits often attributed to no-till production systems. In conclusion, I challenge all ISTRO scientists to critically ask if your research is contributing to improved soil and crop management strategies that effectively address the complexity associated with sustainable food, feed, fiber and fuel production throughout the world.


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