Optimizing the economics and the carbon and water footprints of bioethanol supply chains


Correspondence to: Fabrizio Bezzo, CAPE-Lab − Computer-Aided Process Engineering Laboratory, DII - Dipartimento di Ingegneria Industriale, Università di Padova, via Marzolo 9, 35131, Padova, Italy. Email: fabrizio.bezzo@unipd.it


Water consumption has become a serious concern in renewable fuels production. This paper proposes a framework to address sustainable transport systems design where both environmental (i.e. carbon and water footprints) and economic performances are taken into account along the bioethanol supply chain. A multi-objective Mixed Integer Linear Programming modeling framework supporting strategic design and planning decisions for multi-period and multi-echelon upstream ethanol supply chains is developed. Hybrid biofuel production networks, where both corn grain and stover are used as suitable feedstocks, are optimized according to several features, involving technology selection and by-products end-use option. A case study is presented referring to the emerging Italian biofuels market. Results show the effectiveness of mathematical-programming-based tools to optimal design of biofuels supply chains, assessing the pros and cons of alternative configurations and, thus, allowing investors to drive planning decisions. © 2012 Society of Chemical Industry and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd