Logistics for Large Scale Biorefineries: Impacts of Carbon Management and Supply System Maturation

D. Hartley
Idaho National Lab,
United States

Keywords: biorefineries, carbon management


Modern Biorefineries are faced with balancing economic and sustainability objectives. Biorefineries, like most industries, seek to maximize their profits and often look employ the principle of economies of scale as a strategy to decrease the costs, resulting in improved margins and higher profits. Additionally, Carbon Intensity has come to the forefront as an issue that Biorefineries must now address. Supply chain managers are being asked to contribute to reducing the carbon intensity of their products by responsibly sourcing material and modifying operations to reduce carbon inputs. However, because biorefineries rely predominantly on agricultural and forestry feedstocks as a raw material, which suffer from a diseconomy of scale, whereas more resource is needed the cost increases due to both scarcity and increased transportation requirements. For biorefineries looking for low carbon intensity of feedstocks, the diseconomy of scale can be exacerbated by the relatively low maturity level of the supply system and the variability in carbon intensity of cultural practices. In the early stages of development, the risk to the producer is high due to uncertainty associated with changing production practices and entering an unfamiliar market, leading to low initial participation and a more diffused resource. The object of this research is to identify and examine supply chain topologies, that incorporate carbon management can be scaled to supply large biorefineries in the U.S. (i.e. a minimum of 10,000 dt/day), and examine how the maturation of the supply system effects supply chain structure.