Economic Optimization of a Lignocellulosic Biomass-to-Ethanol Supply Chain

W. Alex Marvin, Lanny D. Schmidt, Saif Benjaafar, Douglas G. Tiffany, Prodromos Daoutidis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

187 Scopus citations


This paper presents an optimization study of the net present value of a biomass-to-ethanol supply chain in a 9-state region in the Midwestern United States. The study involves formulating and solving a mixed integer linear programming (MILP) problem. A biochemical technology is assumed for converting five types of agricultural residues into ethanol utilizing dilute acid pretreatment and enzymatic hydrolysis. Optimal locations and capacities of biorefineries are determined simultaneously with biomass harvest and distribution. Sensitivity analysis is performed to elucidate the impact of price uncertainty on the robustness of the supply chain and whether or not the proposed biorefineries will be built or will fail financially after being built.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-79
Number of pages12
JournalChemical Engineering Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful for the assistance by Adam Terlson on generating Google Maps driving distances between all locations. The work carried out in this paper was supported by a grant from the University of Minnesota Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment (large grant RL-0004-09 ).


  • Economics
  • Energy
  • Fuels
  • Mixed integer programming
  • Optimization
  • Supply chain design


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