Optimization of biofuel production from corn stover under supply uncertainty in Ontario

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada.

2 Department of Chemical Engineering, Khalifa University, The Petroleum Institute, Abu Dhabi, UAE.


In this paper, a biofuel production supply chain optimization framework is developed that can supply the fuel demand for 10% of Ontario. Different biomass conversion technologies are considered, such as pyrolysis and gasification and subsequent hydro processing and the Fischer-Tropsch process. A supply chain network approach is used for the modeling, which enables the optimization of both the biorefinery locations and the associated transportation networks. Gasification of corn stover is examined to convert waste biomass into valuable fuel. Biomass-derived fuel has several advantages over traditional fuels including substantial greenhouse gas reduction, generating higher quality synthetic fuels, providing a use for biomass waste, and potential for use without much change to existing infrastructure. The objective of this work is to show the feasibility of the use of corn stover as a biomass feedstock to a hydrocarbon biofuel supply chain in Ontario using a mixed-integer linear programming model while accounting for the uncertainty in the availability of corn stover. In the case study, the exact number of biorefineries is left as a policy decision and the optimization is carried out over a range of the possible numbers of facilities. The results obtained from the case study suggests implementing gasification technology followed by Fischer-Tropsch at two different sites in Ontario. The optimal solution satisfied 10% of the yearly fuel demand of Ontario with two production plants (14.8 billion L of fuel) and requires an investment of $42.9 billion, with a payback period of about 3 years.

Graphical Abstract

Optimization of biofuel production from corn stover under supply uncertainty in Ontario


  • Examined gasification of corn stover as means to convert waste biomass into fuel.
  • Biorefinery siting locations selected in Ontario counties.
  • MILP model accounts for corn stover supply uncertainty with stochastic programming.
  • At least two biorefinery facilities are required to meet all province demands.


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