Feedstock Supply Chain from Landing to Biorefinery

We want to know how many biorefineries Michigan can support, given current and future demands on woody materials.

Research question

Woody biomass feedstock can include logs, forest residues, and energy crops. We want to know how many biorefineries can be supported by the current and future feedstock in the northern lower peninsula of Michigan, and what the optimum locations and sizes of these refineries might be. Is there sufficient material to support more biorefineries in Michigan given that biomass is currently needed by biomass-fired utility operations, pulp and paper mills, and a planned biorefinery in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula? The distributed nature of biomass feedstock, and the cost and methods of biomass recovery operations add complexity to these questions, which are critical for increasing biomass energy production in Michigan.



A series of steps that we used to address these questions are as follows: First, we developed a Geographic Information System (GIS)-based multi-criteria approach to select the best facility locations for biofuel production. Second, we used a simulation tool to address uncertainties in the transportation and storage of biomass (e.g., timing of spring melt). Last, we used a multi-objective optimization technique to identify optimal decisions and evaluate the economic,environmental, and societal impacts of using forest resources as feedstock for biofuel production in Michigan.


Progress and Results

Several products have been developed and are available below. The optimization model is now available for download, along with a tutorial and user instructions. A final project report and additional publications and background documents are also included.



Final Report:

FBSCC Task B4 Final Report


Additional publications and background Documents:

  • Zhang, F., Handler, R., Johnson, D.M., and Shonnard, D.R. (April 2011) Comparative Analysis of Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Supply Chains for Biofuel and Fossil Fuel Production, paper accepted for the Proceedings of the 2011 Production and Operations Management Society (POMS) Conference, Reno, NV.
    Available here.
  • Gap Analysis
  • Initial Location Selection