Choice of optimum feedstock portfolio for a cellulosic ethanol plant – A dynamic linear programming solution
When the lignocellulosic biofuels industry reaches maturity and many types of biomass sources become economically viable, management of multiple feedstock supplies – that vary in their yields, density (tons per unit area), harvest window, storage and seasonal costs, storage losses, transport distance to the production plant – will become increasingly important for the success of individual enterprises. The manager’s feedstock procurement problem is modeled as a multi-period sequence problem to account for dynamic management over time. The case is illustrated with a hypothetical 53 million annual US gallon cellulosic ethanol plant located in south west Kansas that requires approximately 700,000 metric dry tons of biomass. The problem is framed over 40 quarters (10 years), where the production manager minimizes cumulative costs by choosing the land acreage that has to be contracted with for corn stover collection, or dedicated energy production and the amount of biomass stored for off-season. The sensitivity of feedstock costs to changes in yield patterns, harvesting and transport costs, seasonal costs and the extent of area available for feedstock procurement are studied. The outputs of the model include expected feedstock cost and optimal mix of feedstocks used by the cellulosic ethanol plant every year. The problem is coded and solved using GAMS software. The analysis demonstrates how the feedstock choice affects the resulting raw material cost for cellulosic ethanol production, and how the optimal combination varies with two types of feedstocks (annual and perennial).
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