Biodiesel production, like other engineering projects, involves critical decisions which have to be made under uncertainties stemming from a range of sources such as the inherent variation in operating conditions and market forces featuring inflation, depreciation factors, variations in equipment/production costs, etc. Although the effect of such uncertainties on front end engineering and management decisions was recognised, these have not been considered comprehensively in the literature. In this paper, for the first time, structural reliability principles are applied to determine the prospect of a process plant achieving some performance targets under uncertainties. Considering the published case of a biodiesel production plant, this paper presents a new approach for techno-economic assessment in a stochastic framework. Mean values of the economic indicators obtained through the stochastic analysis are found to be in good agreement with previously published nominal values. The stochastic techno-economic analysis approach combines First Order Reliability Method (FORM) and Monte Carlo Simulation (MCS) to offer additional performance measures which are needed by prospective investors, governments, engineers and other stakeholders to ensure plant safety and cost-efficiency.
- biodiesel production process
- techno-economic analysis
- plant performance optimization
- stochastic modelling