Department of Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering
Matthew Darr has an expertise and background in biomass storage and upgrading technologies, advanced machinery engineering, machinery logistical analysis, and distributed control of embedded systems. His current research emphasis includes equipment development for enhanced densification and logistics for cellulosic biomass feedstock, optimized storage and material upgrading for long term biomass feedstock stability, and machinery automation to support both biomass feedstock collection and optimal fertilizer placement. Darr is the lead PI for $1.3 million Department of Energy Sun Grant research project focused on evaluation of in-field corn stover densification technologies and the interaction of densification on storage quality, machinery logistics, and production costs. Project work involves field scale harvesting, transportation, and storage of both wet and dry biomass and both single pass and multi-pass harvesting as well as an in-depth analysis of machinery logistics requirements of biomass production. He is also investigating on-farm methods of biomass upgrading, including torrefaction, to serve as transformative technologies for reducing the production cost of cellulosic feedstocks. Techno-economic analysis has shown that immediate upgrading can significantly reduce storage and transportation costs as well as improve the overall efficiency of biomass harvest. Additional research is ongoing to determine the optimal process variables and to fully quantify the material properties of a torrefied biomass.