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@Alain That sounds cool. I think that I gotta study more regarding tree farming. Previously I am looking at close-loop algae system and apparently it is too fragile to keep a constant high productivity, no matter heterotrophic or autotrophic approach is used. There is a report saying that switchgrass can reach 20tons per acre per year in Taiwan (where I am located in) although the productivity will drop as the root system aged and a re-plant is needed about every five years. Should the poplar root system be almost never aged, then we do be able to have a constant and profitable supply of feedstock.
With some web searching, I think that the 10 tons should be annual instead of triennial (per the "Approximately 10 tons of poplar could be grown per acre annually" in http://news.uns.purdue.edu/html4ever/2006/060823.Chapple.poplar.html). If this is correct then it's 1350 gallons per acre per year in average, as GWR typically harvests poplar triennually. In an interesting old article (http://gas2.org/2009/07/24/2000-gallons-of-ethanol-per-acre-for-15-cents-per-gallon-%E2%80%94-made-from-wood/) there are some interesting calculations and comparisons regarding ZeaChem/poplar, corn and algae although they are assuming that the 2000 gallons yield (based on the optimistic 15 tons annual yeild) is triennual. Yet I believe that the key to biorefinery they revealed is how many BDTs you can get at a profitable price per year, continously. A better conversion process can increase the gross margin, but it won't generate more feedstock.
The AIST guys also have a development in Li-Air battery: http://www.aist.go.jp/aist_e/latest_research/2009/20090727/20090727.html It looks that this Ni-Li approach is an alternate in cathode: the O2 + 2H2O + 4e- → 4OH- in Li-Air becomes Ni(OH)2 + 2e- → Ni + 2OH- in Ni-Li and thus no O2 is needed.