Animal husbandry, food production, and soil fertilization in agriculture all generate waste streams of organic mass. These can be used in the production of transportation fuel.
Biorefinery impact assessment tool and simulation
A biorefinery is needed to convert organic waste into fuel and these facilities require an environmental impact assessment before commissioning. This article introduces a simulation tool called Regional Biorefinery Impact Assessment (REBIA). The tool allows easy adjustment of waste stream sources and biorefinery locations to help investigate their impact on the environment. REBIA is based on a supply chain model, where waste is transported via the road network from its various sources to the biorefinery.
REBIA combines system dynamics and agent-based functionality and can therefore be extended to incorporate a wide range of heuristics and procedures even without any analytic model.
This article shows results of four supply chain simulation experiments from the region around the City of Kangasala, Finland. This region provides an interesting area for the research as it contains both a large food industry factory in the countryside and nutrient-intensive agriculture.
The combination of animal husbandry and a related food industry creates local nutrient-load hotspots. Even a small number of these hotspots can generate a significant nutrient-load risk for the Baltic Sea. Thus, the management of nutrient streams is important.
In the supply chain model, the researchers included three main agent types: Waste Feed Source, Vehicle, and Bioreactor. Waste feed sources generate different types of waste and vehicles transport them to the biorefinery where they are converted into commercially valuable products.
Experiments with the supply chain model
To demonstrate REBIA’s performance, the researchers ran four simulation experiments over the course of ten virtual years. The experiments assessed the impact of variables such as vehicle size, biorefinery capacity, and waste stream locations.
The research was funded by the Finnish Ministry of the Environment for the Enhancement of nutrient recycling by a local bio-cycle-model project and the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture for the Bioeconomy 4.0 and Carbon 4.0 projects.