State and prospects of overseas biomass transport to Germany

  • Project team:

    Domnik, Tobias (Dissertation)

  • Start date:


  • End date:


  • Research group:

    Energy - resources, technologies, systems

Project description

As part of the energy revolution and globalization of commodity markets the transport of biomass as food, raw material and energy maker will become increasingly important. This applies particularly to overseas freight transport. Against this background, the present doctoral dissertation focusses on a comprehensive analysis and assessment of associated transport costs and environmental impacts. This includes the detailed technical description and analysis of different freight transport means (ship, rail, truck) as a function of the selected biomasses, countries of origin and transport distances.

A detailed knowledge of the global biomass supply paths can classify the current and in particular the medium-term prospects of the biomass purchase on the world market and its potential contribution to the biomass supply in Germany (and EU).

In particular, it can be answered under which conditions the transport of previously conditioned biomass (compacted, partially digested) appears more favorable.

The ITAS has been carried out various techno-economic and environmental analyzes of land-based transport of biomass (ship, railroad, truck) in the context of already completed projects and dissertations.

This work will be supplemented and merged to overseas freight transport, so that, for example, the question can be answered, which transport and logistics costs are associated with operating a plant in Germany using the supply of biomass or derived products (e.g. ethanol, palm oil) from overseas countries.

Based on the currently most important trading partners the transport of wood (pellets, wood chips, logs), sugar cane bagasse, Biosyncrude (slurry or pyrolysis / coke-suspension), cereals (wheat grain), soybean meal, palm oil and ethanol are investigated in more detail. This selection may be modified during the research process.

In order to make reliable statements on the basis of the results, the comparability of the biomass supply paths must be ensured. Therefore, as a further part of this work, an algorithm will be designed and linked to the researched data basis which identifies for selected start (overseas source of biomass) and end points (location of biomass-use facility in Germany) the most cost-effective (optimal) supply paths.

This algorithm is to be implemented by software, visualized, equipped with a graphical user interface and thus made generally applicable.

Administrative data

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Carlos Jahn (Technische Universität Hamburg-Harburg)
Advisor: Prof. Dr. Armin Grunwald
Doctoral students at ITAS: See Doctoral studies at ITAS


Tobias Domnik, M.Sc.
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe