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Optimal Design of Sustainable Ammonia-Based Food–Energy–Water Systems with Nitrogen Management

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journal contribution
posted on 09.02.2021, 15:05 by Hanchu Wang, Matthew Palys, Prodromos Daoutidis, Qi Zhang
As the basis for virtually any form of nitrogen fertilizers, ammonia plays a vital role in agriculture; in addition, there has been an increased interest in its use as a carbon-free energy carrier. However, ammonia is also associated with two major environmental concerns: CO2 emissions from the conventional production process and nitrogen pollution from the excessive use of ammonia-based fertilizers. To mitigate these environmental impacts, we develop an optimization framework for the design of a sustainable ammonia-based agricultural system that synergistically integrates the production of ammonia from renewable resources and effective measures for nitrogen management. The proposed model captures the effect of intermittency by incorporating both design and detailed operational decisions. By applying a multiscale time representation that reduces the problem size and a tailored surrogate model that accurately approximates model nonlinearity, we are able to achieve optimal solutions within reasonable computation times. A computational case study is conducted using real-world data from a local farm in Morris, Minnesota, and the results indicate the trade-off between cost and nitrogen loss. Importantly, we show that practicing effective nitrogen management can significantly reduce the nitrogen loss with only a small increase in net present cost.