A linear programming approach for designing a herbaceous biomass delivery system
There are a variety of systems-related issues associated with the production and distribution of herbaceous biomass from supply points to a centrally located plant. This modeling effort is directed toward the design of such a biomass delivery system that incorporates storage, scheduling and transportation issues. A statement of the problem along with its salient characteristics is presented and a linear programming model is constructed to represent it. The nondeterministic aspects of the system related to uncertainty in production levels due to weather is addressed by reformulating the linear program as a two-stage problem with recourse. This enables the incorporation of alternative scenarios to enhance the decision-making process. A specific case study of a plant located in a county in the Piedmont of Virginia, is considered. The model is solved using the data set for this study, and appropriate sensitivity analyses are conducted to illustrate the range of decision-making options that are available to facilitate an effective systems planning exercise aimed at minimizing cost subject to operational constraints. Specific areas for further research are also identified.