Process Synthesis of Biorefineries under Uncertain Feedstock Conditions Based on Hurwicz Criterion

Nor Nazeelah Saleem, Lik Yin Ng, Viknesh Andiappan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
35 Downloads (Pure)


Climate change is a widespread issue posed by greenhouse gas (GHG) emission produced from human activities. As emission mitigation protocols increase in number, one way to comply with these protocols is by implementing biorefineries. A biorefinery converts biomass into biofuel, power and chemicals through a combination of processes. Due to the heterogeneous composition of biomass, various processing pathways are available for biomass conversion. This makes designing an optimal biorefinery process a difficult task. In addition, the inherent uncertainties in biomass feedstock supply would further complicate the decision-making process. To address these challenges, this work developed an optimisation model to synthesize an optimal biorefinery process design under uncertain feedstock conditions by adapting Hurwicz Criterion approach. The uncertainty in the feedstock supply is represented as scenarios in Hurwicz Criterion approach. This approach allows the decision-makers to input anticipated feedstock supply values into the criterion to choose the best alternative design. Hurwicz Criterion approach finds the intermediate area between total optimism and total pessimism criteria by including a coefficient of realism. The value for the coefficient of realism is subject to the decision makers’ appetite towards risk. Based on the results from Hurwicz Criterion, biorefinery process design with best weighted average is selected. To illustrate the proposed methodology, a case study was solved. In the case study, lignocellulosic biomass such as empty fruit bunch was used. The optimal biorefinery design with the best weighted average was the one sized at 8000 kg/h of biomass input. The products chosen for the biorefinery designs were bio-oil, pentanol and succinic acid. Following this, results from the Hurwicz Criterion are compared with results from a method that requires the use of historical data and probability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-246
Number of pages16
JournalProcess Integration and Optimization for Sustainability
Issue number2
Early online date9 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • Biorefinery
  • Hurwicz Criterion
  • Process synthesis and optimisation
  • Uncertainty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • General Chemical Engineering


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