Plant capacity level and location as a mechanism for sustainability in biomass supply chain


Biomass is an important energy source that has the ability to reduce dependencies on fossil fuels, while providing a greener source of energy and helping achieve sustainability. Among the most commonly used biomass feedstock is corn stover, corn residue remaining in the fields after harvesting. One of the biggest challenges of using corn stover as biomass feedstock is that burning it in field is the fastest and cheapest way for many growers so as to remove it and grow new crops. This leftover corn stover could be, instead, converted to bioethanol. In this work, we propose a decision support system for expanding existing biorefineries or building new ones to help stakeholders design a supply chain network model that converts all of the available corn stover to bioethanol. Two configurations presented in this study which is the existing plant expansion (EP) configuration and the combination of existing and new plant configuration (ENP), by exploring the incentive and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission price value for the bioenergy plant to achieve the goal. The aim of converting all corn stover is successfully achieved along with the other goals of achieving sustainability by reducing the amount of GHG emissions in the supply chain. Our results reveal that we can achieve a minimum amount of GHG emissions, while maximizing profit from the supply chain, when expanding existing plants and building new plants (ENP configuration) leading to a reduction of GHG emissions by 4%.

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Part of this work was performed while Dr. Chrysafis Vogiatzis was an Assistant Professor with the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at North Dakota State University. Funding: Chrysafis Vogiatzis would like to acknowledge support by Grant ND EPSCoR NSF 1355466.

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Correspondence to N. Muhammad Aslaam Mohamed Abdul Ghani.

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Mohamed Abdul Ghani, N.M.A., Szmerekovsky, J.G. & Vogiatzis, C. Plant capacity level and location as a mechanism for sustainability in biomass supply chain. Energy Syst 11, 1075–1109 (2020).

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  • Biomass
  • Sustainable supply chain management
  • Incentives
  • Optimization
  • Facility location