UBC Undergraduate Research

An investigation into producing bioenergy at the UBC Farm Multani, Kevin; Ng, Conrad; Tilley, Eric; Yuen, Amanda


This report presents an investigation into the opportunity for the UBC Farm to produce biomass for energy production at the UBC Bioenergy Research and Demonstration Facility (BRDF). The goal of this investigation is to contribute to UBC's e ort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an economically and socially responsible manner. The stakeholder for the project is Kate Menzies, Agroforesty Coordinator at UBC Farm. The land considered to be available for use in the presented analysis was 500m² of marginal lands and hedgerows at UBC Farm. The extent of this area was measured in person and estimated using maps (Google Maps, 2013). To manage the amount of research required for the project, miscanthus giganteus, switchgrass and hybrid poplar were investigated and compared on several qualitative and quantitative criteria designated by UBC Farm and the BRDF. The result of this evaluation was that miscanthus giganteus is the most beneficial crop to produce. Its expected annual yield will increase over time, achieving a maximum of 1 ton of dry matter after three to four years. At maximum yield rates, it will supply 0.008% of the BRDFs annual biofuel consumption (Nexterra Energy Corp., 2013). Assuming the BRDF is operating in thermal mode at all times, this accounts for 1.6 lbs/hr of steam production and a reduction of 0.4 tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per year (Nexterra Energy Corp., 2013). The triple bottom line assessment conducted for growing miscanthus giganteus indi- cates that UBC Farm will need to invest $460 to begin the project. This project will operate at a net loss of $205 per year afterwards. However, this is a sound investment considering the environmental and social benefits of the project. Environmentally, the project needs to be increased in scale to significantly reduce UBC's GHG emissions, but there are other positives such as reduced soil erosion to consider. Socially, there is the potential for this project to have a significant impact in that it will broaden interest and understanding of the production of bioenergy and create new relationships within UBC's community and beyond. Overall, UBC stands to benefit from this project from an investment point of view, and it is recommended that UBC consider taking action in the near future. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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