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Biofuel Supply Chain Analyses:

Performance-based Assessment Tool of the NARA eBook


and Supply Chain Lessons
Overview:

This assessment tool allows students to use the knowledge they have
gathered from the NARA interactive eBook and associated lessons to
research and analyze another biofuel source.

Keywords:

Biofuel- A fuel derived, directly or indirectly, from organic material


Biomass- Biological material derived from living, or recently living,
organisms

Age / Grade
Range:
Background
:

Next
Generation
Science
Standards &
Common
Core:

9th-12th
After Congress mandated that the United States must annually
produce enough biofuels to replace 30% of petroleum-based fuels by
the year 2030 (Perlack et al., 2005), an influx of biofuels research
began to emerge. As of 2012, only 8% of energy in the US originated
from renewable sources (Hougham, Schon, Eitel, & Hollenhorst,
2012). The government has begun incentivizing the production of
biofuels across the United States with United States Department of
Agriculture Coordinated Agricultural Project (USDA CAP) grants
(Guo, Sun, & Grebner, 2007). The Northwest Advanced Renewables
Alliance (NARA) is an example of an organization that emerged from
a USDA CAP grant, tasked with assessing the feasibility of
developing a woody biomass biofuel industry in the Pacific Northwest
(Laninga, Millman, & Payne, 2014/2015). Your task is to assess one
of the other biofuel sources that have emerged over the last 10 years,
determining the economic, environmental, and social sustainability of
the biofuel supply chain you choose.
NGSS:
HS-ESS3-1. - Construct an explanation based on evidence for how
the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards,
and changes in climate have influenced human activity.
HS-ESS3-2. - Evaluate competing design solutions for developing,
managing, and utilizing energy and mineral resources based on costThis work was supported by an Agriculture and Food Research
Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2011-68005-30416 from the USDA
National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

benefit ratios.
HS-ESS3-4. - Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces
impacts of human activities on natural systems.
Common Core:
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.9-10.7: Conduct short as well as
more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a
self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the
inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject,
demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.9-10.8: Gather relevant information
from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced
searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering
the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to
maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a
standard format for citation.
Goals/Drivin
g Questions:

Objectives:

Materials:

What are the most sustainable biofuels that can be


produced in your region?
What is the process of converting woody biomass to
biojet fuel?
What are some of the challenges and complexities
associated with the developing a biofuel industry in your
region?
Students will be able to assess the environmental,
economic, and social sustainability of the NARA biofuel
supply.
Students will compare the sustainability of the NARA
supply chain to another biofuel supply chain.
Students who demonstrate understanding can:
Discuss the pros/cons of developing bioenergy sources.
Evaluate the economic, social, and environmental
sustainability of a biofuel supply chain.
Apply information gathered from the NARA eBook
and woody biomass case study to evaluate other biofuel
sources.
NARA eBook with associated lessons, videos, and
newsletters
This work was supported by an Agriculture and Food Research
Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2011-68005-30416 from the USDA
National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Poster board
Markers, glue, paper, and other art materials for poster
development
Student access to web sources and individual research
on biofuels
Set up:

This assessment is intended to take place after students


have completed lessons and reading of NARA eBook. (This
should take 1-2 weeks, minimum.)
Provide students with links to other biofuel supply
chains.
Prepare poster board materials for students to work
with.
Print out product outline and rubric for each student.

Classroom
Time:

1 week to complete NARA eBook, followed by 2+ hours to complete


assessment (The final product can be completed at home if needed.

Introduction
(Engage):

Review the NARA biofuel supply chain with students, outlining the
process of converting forest residuals into biojet fuel and associated
co-products. NARA supply chain diagram can be found here:
https://nararenewables.org/docs/one-pager/supplychain.pdf. You can
have students draw out what they remember from the NARA supply
chain or go over the diagram again with them to refresh their
memories.
Introduce students to other sources of biofuel. Ask students to name
some plant materials that they have heard of that are used to produce
biofuels, prompting if necessary (corn, wood, switchgrass, sugar).

Activity:
Research
and Product
Developmen
t

Show students a list of other biofuels that are funded by USDA CAP
grants:
https://nararenewables.org/about/afri-grants. Assign students
individually or in pairs to a biofuel of choice off the list or other
known biofuel (ethanol from corn, biodiesel, etc.).
Individually or in pairs, students will create a poster, power point
presentation, or write-up that outlines the production supply chain of
their assigned biofuel, detailing each step of the process and the inputs
and outputs involved (refer to NARA supply chain as reference).
Students will research their biofuel and present the environmental,
This work was supported by an Agriculture and Food Research
Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2011-68005-30416 from the USDA
National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

social, and economic sustainability of the biofuel production supply


chain.
Guiding Questions:
How does my biofuel supply chain compare to biofuels
from woody biomass?
What are some social considerations of this biofuel
production?
Jobs, regional development, etc.
What are some economic considerations of this biofuel
production?
Example: Price of Oil- When petroleum
is relatively low in cost, it is not economical to produce
liquid biofuels. Liquid biofuel was being produced for
around $4.00/gallon and this cannot compete with
$3.00/gallon for petroleum.
What are some environmental considerations of this
biofuel production?
Example: Leaving woody biomass in
the field instead of processing it into biofuel allows
important nutrients to return to the soil.
Is the production of this biofuel feasible in my region?
Example: Woody biomass is in constant
supply in the Pacific Northwest due to the amount of
logging.
What are the pros/cons of this biofuel production?
Relevant
Sites:
Gallery
Walk &
Follow-up
Discussion:

https://nararenewables.org/about/afri-grants/
https://nararenewables.org/docs/other/AFRI-CAPoverview.pdf
http://advancedbiofuelsusa.info/
After poster products are completed, students will present their
biofuel to the class, highlighting the economic, social, and
environmental sustainability of their biofuel. Posters can be arranged
around the room for students to walk around and read about each
biofuel.
Engage students in a discussion about the pros and cons of each
biofuel. Have students discuss which biofuels they think are the most
sustainable and which have the greatest chance of long-term success
in their region.
This work was supported by an Agriculture and Food Research
Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2011-68005-30416 from the USDA
National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Possible Discussion Questions:


Which biofuels are the most economically sustainable?
(socially sustainable? environmentally sustainable?)
Which biofuels would be the most feasible to produce in your
region?
What considerations would you need to consider before
establishing a biofuel supply chain in this region?
What stakeholders inputs do you need to consider in
establishing a biofuel supply chain?

GRADING
RUBRIC
Content
Knowledge and
Understanding

4 Points

3 Points

2 Points

1 Point

Demonstrates an
acute
understanding of
a specific biofuel
supply chain and
evaluating
sustainability.

Demonstrates a
general
understanding of
a specific biofuel
supply chain and
evaluating
sustainability.

Demonstrates a
limited
understanding of
a specific biofuel
supply chain and
evaluating
sustainability.

Demonstrates
minimal or no
understanding of
a specific biofuel
supply chain and
evaluating
sustainability.

This work was supported by an Agriculture and Food Research


Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2011-68005-30416 from the USDA
National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Synthesis of
Research

Critical
Thinking

Uses extensive
research to
outline the
sustainability of
specific biofuel
production.
Thorough

analysis of the
pros/cons of
specific biofuel
production.
Clear ability to
compare
specific biofuel
to other biofuel
supply chains.

Uses adequate
research to
outline the
sustainability of
specific biofuel
production.

Uses limited
research to
outline the
sustainability of
specific biofuel
production.

General analysis
of the
pros/cons of
specific biofuel
production.
Some ability to
compare specific
biofuel to other
biofuel supply
chains.

Limited analysis
of the
pros/cons of
specific biofuel
production.
Limited ability
to compare
specific biofuel
to other biofuel
supply chains.

Uses minimal or
no research to
outline the
sustainability of
specific biofuel
production.

Minimal or no
analysis of the
pros/cons of
specific biofuel
production.
Minimal or no
ability to
compare specific
biofuel to other
biofuel supply
chains.
Rubric modeled after Facing the Futures Fueling our Future: Exploring Sustainable
Energy Use, An Interdisciplinary Curriculum Recommended for Grades 6-8 (2015).

This work was supported by an Agriculture and Food Research


Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2011-68005-30416 from the USDA
National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Bibliography:
Facing the Future. (2015). Fueling our Future: Exploring Sustainable Energy Use, An
Interdisciplinary Curriculum Recommended for Grades 6-8. Western Washington
University.
Guo, Z., Sun, C., & Grebner, D.L. (2007). Utilization of forest derived biomass for energy
production in the USA: status, challenges, and public policies. International Forestry
Review, 9(3), 748-758.
Hougham, R. J., Schon, J. A., Eitel, K.B., & Hollenhorst, S. A. (2012). Education at the speed of
research: communicating the science of biofuels. Published Proceedings of the Sun Grant
Initiative. New Orleans, LA.
Laninga, T., Millman, S., & Payne, K. (2014/2015). From wood to wing: opportunities to build an
advanced biofuels industry in the Pacific Northwest utilizing its timber-based assets.
Western Planner, 35(5), 12-19.
Perlack, R. D., Wright, L. L., Turhollow, A. F., Graham, R. L., Stokes, B. J., & Erbach, D. C.
(2005). Biomass as feedstock for a bioenergy and bioproducts industry: the technical
feasibility of a billion-ton annual supply. Oak Ridge National Lab, TN.

This work was supported by an Agriculture and Food Research


Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2011-68005-30416 from the USDA
National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Biofuel Supply Chain Analyses:


Poster Presentation Assignment
Background

After Congress mandated that the United States must annually produce enough biofuels to
replace 30% of petroleum-based fuels by the year 2030 (Perlack et al., 2005), an influx of
biofuels research began to emerge. As of 2012, only 8% of energy in the US originated from
renewable sources (Hougham, Schon, Eitel, & Hollenhorst, 2012). The government has
begun incentivizing the production of biofuels across the United States with United States
Department of Agriculture Coordinated Agricultural Project (USDA CAP) grants (Guo, Sun,
& Grebner, 2007). The Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA) is an example of
an organization that emerged from a USDA CAP grant, tasked with assessing the feasibility of
developing a woody biomass biofuel industry in the Pacific Northwest (Laninga, Millman, &
Payne, 2014/2015). Your task is to assess one of the other biofuel sources that have emerged
over the last 10 years, determining the economic, environmental, and social sustainability of
the biofuel supply chain you choose.

Review

Draw the NARA biofuel supply chain from the forest to the jet, diagramming each step of the
process.
Step 1:

Assignment

Step 2:

Step 3:

Step 4:

Step 5:

Step 6:

Create a poster demonstrating the production supply chain another biofuel source
(refer to NARA supply chain as reference).
This work was supported by an Agriculture and Food Research
Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2011-68005-30416 from the USDA
National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Thoroughly research your biofuel and list the environmental, social, and economic
sustainability of the biofuel production supply chain. Make sure to point out areas
where the biofuel is not sustainable.
Guiding Questions:
How does my biofuel supply chain compare to biofuels from woody
biomass?
What are some social considerations of this biofuel production?
Jobs, regional development, etc.
What are some economic considerations of this biofuel production?
Example: Price of Oil- When petroleum is relatively low
in cost, it is not economical to produce liquid biofuels. Liquid biofuel
was being produced for around $4.00/gallon and this cannot compete
with $3.00/gallon for petroleum.
What are some environmental considerations of this biofuel production?
Example: Leaving woody biomass in the field instead of
processing it into biofuel allows important nutrients to return to the soil.
Is the production of this biofuel feasible in my region?
Example: Woody biomass is in constant supply in the
Pacific Northwest due to the amount of logging.
What are the pros/cons of this biofuel production?
Relevant
Sites

https://nararenewables.org/about/afri-grants/
https://nararenewables.org/docs/other/AFRI-CAP-overview.pdf
http://advancedbiofuelsusa.info/
GRADING
RUBRIC
Content
Knowledge and
Understanding

4 Points

3 Points

2 Points

1 Point

Demonstrates an
acute
understanding of
a specific biofuel
supply chain and
evaluating
sustainability.

Demonstrates a
general
understanding of
a specific biofuel
supply chain and
evaluating
sustainability.

Demonstrates a
limited
understanding of
a specific biofuel
supply chain and
evaluating
sustainability.

Demonstrates
minimal or no
understanding of
a specific biofuel
supply chain and
evaluating
sustainability.

This work was supported by an Agriculture and Food Research


Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2011-68005-30416 from the USDA
National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Synthesis of
Research

Critical
Thinking

Uses extensive
research to
outline the
sustainability of
specific biofuel
production.

Uses adequate
research to
outline the
sustainability of
specific biofuel
production.

Uses limited
research to
outline the
sustainability of
specific biofuel
production.

Uses minimal or
no research to
outline the
sustainability of
specific biofuel
production.

Thorough
General analysis Limited analysis Minimal or no
analysis of the
of the
of the
analysis of the
pros/cons of
pros/cons of
pros/cons of
pros/cons of
specific biofuel
specific biofuel
specific biofuel
specific biofuel
production.
production.
production.
production.
Clear ability to Some ability to Limited ability Minimal or no
compare
compare
to compare
ability to
specific biofuel
specific biofuel
specific biofuel
compare
to other biofuel
to other biofuel
to other biofuel
specific biofuel
supply chains.
supply chains.
supply chains.
to other biofuel
supply chains.

This work was supported by an Agriculture and Food Research


Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2011-68005-30416 from the USDA
National Institute of Food and Agriculture.