Biomass Harvesting, Forwarding and Processing Systems

Does Michigan have the workforce and technological capacity to supply biomass from natural and plantation forests? How do different systems that supply biomass compare?

Research question

This study analyzes the supply chain and logistics of harvesting in natural forestlands and energy plantations in the state of Michigan. It also looks at ways to optimize the conversion of wood to different bioenergy products. Specifically, it aims to answer the following questions:

  • Is there enough workforce and technological capacity in Michigan to supply biomass from natural forestlands and plantations?
  • What is the optimal biofuel potential generated from different biomass supply systems?



Answering these questions requires an understanding of Michigan’s current harvesting technology and operating capacity. The supply and logistics research methods used include: (1) a comprehensive survey of equipment and the full logging community within the state of Michigan; (2) modeling of supply chain scenarios for the supply of wood using different harvesting operations and systems; and (3) several consultations and meetings with the logging community and national experts.

Study objectives include:

  • Inventory existing equipment
  • Identify current production capacities with this equipment
  • Develop harvesting and cost scenarios
  • Perform analysis for different supply systems using different equipment
  • Perform analysis for biomass densification technologies (e.g. torrefaction and pelletization)
  • Explore the potential to optimize production


Progress and Results:

The survey was developed and disseminated, and analyzed. Harvest models for natural forest stands and plantations were adapted to meet Michigan needs, and Michigan-specific scenarios were developed. Analysis of survey results and harvest model iterations were available in early 2012.

Final Project Report:

Economic Analysis of Woody Biomass Supply Chain Logisitics for Biofuel Production in Michigan