Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Department of


First Advisor

Yașar Demirel

Date of this Version



Alles, K 2022, Multi-criteria decision matrix method in the risk analysis of biodiesel production processes, Master Thesis, University of Nebraska, Lincoln.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Chemical Engineering, Under the Supervision of Professor Yaşar Demirel. Lincoln, Nebraska: December 2022

Copyright © 2022 Kaylee Alles


Renewable fuel technologies aim to mitigate the non-renewability of fossil fuels, challenges with increased energy demand, and the climate impact of fossil fuel emissions. However, before investing in renewable technologies, there need to be decision strategies that assess and identify the best alternatives according to stakeholder priorities. There is also a concern about whether the technologies that are the “most sustainable” effectively meet the acceptable risk requirements of stakeholders. In response to this question, a risk-adapted multi-criteria decision model was developed and compared to a sustainability study that evaluated five renewable diesel technologies, including Green Diesel I, II, and III; Fischer-Tropsch biodiesel, and the transesterification of biodiesel from vegetable oils. This thesis work provides essential stakeholder perspectives on the risk of these same five technologies and limits the use of probabilistic quantification approaches. Instead, this study uses reasonable assumptions to measure the indicator data objectively. These quantified indicators are considered a cost or benefit and allow adequate comparison of less mature technologies where historical data may be unavailable to more mature ones. This model uses the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) decision strategy with stakeholder survey input to determine criteria and sub-criteria weightings, while the Technique for Order of Preference by Similarity to Ideal Solution (TOPSIS) subsequently ranks the alternative technologies. The criteria evaluated from a risk perspective include process safety, environmental, economic, technological, and social risks. This risk assessment process has ranked technologies producing alternative fuel types. However, it can also compare and rank bioproduct and process intensification technologies to fossil-derived products and more traditional production techniques. Moreover, the central conclusion of this work is that an even more comprehensive tool is needed that combines risk and sustainability aspects. This conclusion is due to the sustainability study indicating Fischer-Tropsch diesel as the best option. At the same time, the present risk research revealed it as the option with the most significant comparative risk.