Josephine A. Elia has been named the inaugural recipient of the Maeder Graduate Fellowship in Energy and the Environment for the academic year 2012-2013. Ms. Elia is a graduate student in the department of chemical and biological engineering whose research focuses on supply chains for transportation fuels. Selection for the Maeder Fellowship is based on the potential impact of technical solutions to ensure our sustainable energy and environmental future.
Abstract: Motivated by the main challenges faced by the United States transportation sector, namely the heavy dependence on petroleum and high greenhouse gas emissions from the production, distribution, and consumption of hydrocarbon fuels, this research project addresses these challenges on a single plant or process level through the design and process synthesis of a hybrid coal, biomass, and natural gas to liquids (CBGTL) process, and on a network-based level through supply chain and strategic planning approaches. For the year of the fellowship, the work will include the development of regional and state-based energy supply chains, as well as strategic planning problems for the future.
Shifting the current energy infrastructure towards a more sustainable future using domestically available resources requires critical considerations of supply, demand, and technological variations over time. The research aims to develop optimization-based approaches to propose strategic plans for the United States transportation sector for the next 40-50 years. At any given year, the decisions on the number of new CBGTL facilities to be built, their locations, and capacities have to be determined, subject to the technological, resources and demand constraints. Additionally, uncertainties in demand behavior, prices, and resources variability will be addressed using robust optimization and conditional value at-risk frameworks. The solutions to these systematic approaches will elucidate important trade-offs in the strategic decisions for the energy sector.