Biosystems engineering faculty members Steve Taylor, Tim McDonald, Oladiran Fasina, John Fulton and Sushil Adhikari are collaborating with forestry and wildlife science faculty members Tom Gallagher, Mathew Smidt and Brian Via, as well as Auburn forest engineering alumni Frank Corley, president of Corley Land Services, and Johnny Boyd, forest engineer at Tigercat, to develop a high productivity system to harvest, process and transport woody biomass from Southern pine energy plantations.
The consortium, led by Auburn, has designed and manufactured tree-length harvesting machines that have low site impacts and employ several energy saving features such as a high-speed shear felling head and an energy recovery swing system. The entire harvest, processing and transport system is capable of producing different biomass forms and sizes for a variety of biorefining customers. The project could produce new biomass logistics technologies ready for market, as well as a database of productivity and cost information for producing biomass from Southern pine plantations. Implementation of these systems could provide new jobs in the logging and equipment manufacturing industries while helping meet U.S. goals for biofuel production and energy security.