A multidisciplinary decision support tool for evaluating multiple biorefinery conversion technologies and supply chain performance

Sumesh Sukumara, William Faulkner, Joseph Amundson, Fazleena Badurdeen, Jeffrey Seay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Fuels from biomass resources have emerged as a promising alternative to fossil fuel. Widely distributed source locations, varying feedstock, and specific regional conditions make it challenging to develop an optimization model that can be applied to any region to estimate the overall economics of producing these biofuels. The lack of a region specific, flexible optimization model makes it difficult for stakeholders like local policy makers, growers, and investors to make informed decisions about the economic viability and social and environmental impacts of biomass utilization. This novel contribution will illustrate an approach to develop a region specific optimization model which links various aspects of the biofuel supply chain such as feedstock source location, upstream and downstream logistics, as well as thermochemical and biochemical processing. This research shows how various individual optimization models can be combined, resulting in a complete, multivariable economic optimization model for a regional biomass network, paving a pathway for future work to develop an integrated framework for sustainability. The research demonstrated in this contribution illustrates the development of a model that can form the basis of a generalizable decision support tool that can guide investors and policy makers in making critical assessments on a local level in any particular region of interest. As a proof of concept, a portion of the described model will be validated using the Jackson Purchase region of Western Kentucky, USA, which is adjoining many coal fields and has various bio-based feedstocks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1027-1044
Number of pages18
JournalClean Technologies and Environmental Policy
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 2014


  • Biofuel
  • Biomass
  • Decision support tool
  • Integrated biorefinery
  • Process simulation
  • Supply chain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry


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