Metaheuristics Applied to Biorefinery Supply Chain Problems: A Review of Selected Methods and Applications

Metaheuristics Applied to Biorefinery Supply Chain Problems: A Review of Selected Methods and Applications

Krystel K. Castillo-Villar (The University of Texas at San Antonio, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6631-3.ch002
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Bioenergy has been recognized as an important alternative source of energy. The production of bioenergy is expected to increase in the years to come, and one of the most important obstacles in increased bioenergy utilization are the logistics problems, which involve complex and large-scale optimization problems. Solving these problems constitutes a daunting task, and often, traditional mathematical approaches fail to converge to the optimal solution within a reasonable time. Thus, more robust methods are required in order to overcome complexity. Metaheuristics are strategies for solving complex and large-scale optimization problems, which provide a near-optimal or practically useful solution. The aim of this chapter is to present a survey of metaheuristics and the available literature regarding the application of metaheuristics in the bioenergy supply chain field as well as the uniqueness and challenges of the mathematical problems applied to bioenergy.
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2. Bioenergy Supply Chain Optimization

Supply chain management is the management of material and information flows both within and between facilities (Thomas & Griffin, 1996). Supply chain modeling seeks to provide an optimal platform for efficient and effective supply chain management by developing mathematical models to optimize resources. In this context, biomass includes all plant and plant-derived materials used for food and energy. The biomass resource base ranges from forestry and agricultural resources, industrial-process residues, to municipal-solid waste and urban-wood trash (Perlack, Wright, Turhollow, Graham, Stokes & Erbach, 2005). Supply chain modeling can be divided into three main decision time frames: operational (hourly and weekly decisions), tactical (monthly decisions), and strategic (yearly decisions) and into three main supply chain levels: upstream, midstream, and downstream. Figure 1 illustrates a generic biofuel supply chain. The upstream level includes farms, storage and biomass inventory facilities; the midstream level includes refineries; and the downstream includes service stations and final customers.

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