An optimization-based assessment framework for biomass-to-fuel conversion strategies†
We develop a framework for the identification and evaluation of biomass-to-fuel production strategies. We generate a technology superstructure that consists of a wide range of conversion technologies along with the corresponding feedstocks, intermediates, and final products. The superstructure includes both known technologies as well as technologies that can be developed based on results available in the literature. Technical (yields and energy requirements) and economic (production cost) parameters, for both existing and potential new technologies, are calculated from the literature or estimated using a systematic approach. The superstructure along with the associated data is used to develop optimization models which allow us to identify and evaluate new and existing biofuel strategies as well as to perform sensitivity analyses and identify the major cost drivers of these strategies. The proposed framework can be used to study a range of interesting questions: What is the best strategy for the production of a specific fuel? What is the best utilization strategy for a specific feedstock? We illustrate our methodology using the production of ethanol from hard woody biomass as a case study.