Optimal design and assessment of biomass supply chains for the energy transition

General information

Type: Master project
Period: Autumn 2019
Project directors: Prof. François Maréchal (IPESE-EPFL)
Assistants: Theodoros Damartzis (IPESE-EPFL)
Related project: SCCER BIOSWEET – BIOmass for SWiss EnErgy FuTure


The uncertainty in the prices of of fossil fuels as well as the energy shift towards renewables, imposed by the decision to ban nuclear power in Switzerland and as such, focus on an alternative energy mix, necessitate the intensification in the research and design of biomass-based conversion technologies. However, the design on standalone conversion processes must be supplemented by the consideration of the entire supply chain that describes the links between raw materials, conversion technologies and services. As such, the design of biomass-based supply chains that include the transport, conversion and deployment of services is imperative to bridge the gap between the current conversion methodologies and highlight the transition from the process level to the national level, exploiting the economies of scale.

Project description

The project will elaborate on current modeling techniques regarding the supply chains of various biomass types and generate the links between predefined conversion technologies with the supply and demand points. Aspects to be investigated include the:

  • design of the optimal transport routes based on economic and environmental objectives.
  • definition of typical conversion plant sizes based on spatial discretization considering supply and demand.
  • evaluation of the role of intermediate storage facilities to eliminate fluctuations in the levels of service demands (e.g. power demand).
  • investigation of the synergies between neighboring plants and definition of an exchange strategy.

The thesis is associated to SCCER BIOSWEET, a project aiming to define the role of biomass in the energy transition by investigating the conversion of bio-resources into valuable products and services, considering the entire supply chain across Switzerland.


Knowledge in:

  • Energy conversion systems (with emphasis on biomass)

Hard skills in:

  • Programming (AMPL, Matlab or equivalent).
  • Optimization: knowledge in AMPL, OSMOSE or equivalent.

Other soft skills that are highly appreciated:

  • Motivation in learning new topics and software/programming/optimization languages.
  • Autonomy and self-organization.
  • Good level of English.
  • Ability to communicate results (oral and written).

How to apply

If interested, please take contact with Theodoros Damartzis attaching your CV, Cover Letter and transcript of records (Bachelor’s and Master’s).

Practical information

The IPESE laboratory is located in the Sion EPFL campus. Travels from Lausanne to Sion are compensated by EPFL.