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An Optimal Storage and Transportation System for a Cellulosic Ethanol Bio-energy Plant

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2010 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, June 20 - June 23, 2010  1009413.(doi:10.13031/2013.29901)
Authors:   Jason Judd, Subhash C Sarin, John S Cundiff, Robert D Grisso
Keywords:   biomass, switchgrass, biomass logistics, in-field hauling, hauling costs, satellite storage locations, location allocation, integer programming, modeling

After locating a bio-energy plant for the conversion of biomass to biofuels, the logistics component associated with transporting the biomass is a nontrivial system. In this paper, we propose local storage locations throughout an area for the temporary storage and loading of round bales. Prior results of uniformly distributing storage locations over an area are compared with those obtained by using a mathematical programming-based approach that seeks optimal locations for the objective of minimizing the transportation and storage location costs. By having less storage locations and longer haul distances, this approach achieves savings of 79%. The optimal solution uses 39 storage locations compared with 167 locations proposed in the previous study. With the transportation costs amounting to 65% of the total cost of biofuels, these savings are significant and show that, due to the complexity of the problem, human intuition and uniform storage placement strategy may lead to results that are far from optimum. Instead, placement of more storage locations in areas with higher field densities (Mg/ha) provides a better solution. Moreover, such solutions are best obtained through the use of optimization-based methodologies.

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