Assessing the Impact of Uncertainty on Ethanol Production Outcomes
As research into cellulosic ethanol production advances, efficiencies are improving at every step through the process. Review of relevant research shows significant variability in parameter estimates for almost every unit process through both supply chain and conversion process. The objective of this study is an assessment of the impact of various parametric uncertainties on the overall material requirements for ethanol production, specifically feedstock requirements and land area for production of feedstock. The analysis is based on a generalized input-output style model of ethanol production, with uncertainty introduced through a Monte Carlo Simulation (MCS) framework. In the initial study, uncertainties in crop yield, storage loss, sugar yield, and fermentation yield are considered. Results show the variation of crop yield has the greatest effect on land area requirements; while variation of sugar yield has the greatest effect on harvested switchgrass, given crop yield parameters. Further analysis will consider the impact of these uncertainties on economic and energy flows in the system.
uncertainty; switchgrass; ethanol