Towards a Quantitative Food-Energy-Water Nexus Metric to Facilitate Decision Making in Process Systems: A Case Study on a Dairy Production Plant.
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While the importance of the Food-Energy-Water Nexus (FEW-N) has been widely accepted, a holistic approach to facilitate decision making in FEW-N systems, along with a quantitative index assessing the integrated FEW-N performance is rather lacking. In this work, we propose a FEW-N metric along with a framework to facilitate decision making for FEW-N process systems through a FEW-N integrated approach. The framework and metric are illustrated through a case study on a dairy production and processing plant. The dairy industry is a significant user of water and energy, with water being a top issue for most dairy industries and organizations worldwide. Following the framework, we develop a mixed-integer scheduling model, with alternative pathways, that faithfully replicated the major food, energy, and water aspects of a real cottage-cheese production plant. Using the developed FEW-N metric we were able to optimize the cottage-cheese plant process and observe different trade-offs between the FEW-N elements.