Design of Tactical and Operational Decisions for Biomass Feedstock Logistics Chain
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The global energy requirement is increasing at a rapid pace and fossil fuels have been one of the major players in meeting this growing energy demand. However, the resources for fossil fuels are finite. Therefore, it is essential to develop renewable energy sources like biofuels to help address growing energy needs. A key aspect in the production of biofuel is the biomass logistics chain that constitutes a complex collection of activities, which must be judiciously executed for a cost-effective operation. In this thesis, we introduce a two-phase optimization-simulation approach to determine tactical biomass logistics-related decisions cost effectively in view of the uncertainties encountered in real-life. These decisions include number of trucks to haul biomass from storage locations to a bio-refinery, the number of unloading equipment sets required at storage locations, and the number of satellite storage locations required to serve as collection points for the biomass secured from the fields. Later, an operational-level decision support tool is introduced to aid the "feedstock manager" at the bio-refinery by recommending which satellite storage facilities to unload, how much biomass to ship, how to allocate existing resources (trucks and unloading equipment sets) during each time period, and how to route unloading equipment sets between storage facilities. Another problem studied is the "Bale Collection Problem" associated with the farmgate operation. It is essentially a capacitated vehicle routing problem with unit demand (CVRP-UD), and its solution defines a cost-effective sequence for collecting bales from the field after harvest.
- Masters Theses