In my research I focus on developing approaches for prospective sustainability assessment of biobased chains, which are commonly at low maturity or so-called technological readiness level (TRL).
Our population is growing and to establish a durable transition it is essential to identify the production chains that sustainably use available resources, ensure food provisioning, produce the marketable products society needs while simultaneously having the lowest environmental impact possible, positive social and economic impact. It is not realistic to evaluate all the possibilities and we should take advantage of the flexibility at earlier stages of development to pre-select the most promising options. Therefore, we should not assess the sustainability ‘after the fact’.
The main challenges that my research focusses on are to deal with limited and uncertain data available for immature biobased technologies and to quantify the expected environmental, economic and social impacts and trade-offs between them. My research aims at developing a robust approach to quantify sustainability trade-offs based on uncertain and limited data. My team develops simulation models using approaches from Process Systems Engineering (PSE), Operations Research (OR) and sustainability assessment to quantify the expected performance and related system-wide sustainability impacts of low technological-readiness biobased systems. Close collaboration with experts within the disciplines primary production (‘feedstocks’) and conversion (‘biorefinery and processing’) is required to ensure validity of the developed mathematical models and resulting early sustainability assessment.