Monte Carlo Simulation as a Research Management Tool

    Research output: NRELTechnical Report


    Monte Carlo simulation provides a research manager with a performance monitoring tool to supplement the standard schedule- and resource-based tools such as the Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) and Critical Path Method (CPM). The value of the Monte Carlo simulation in a research environment is that it 1) provides a method for ranking competing processes, 2) couples technicalimprovements to the process economics, and 3) provides a mechanism to determine the value of research dollars. In this paper the Monte Carlo simulation approach is developed and applied to the evaluation of three competing processes for converting lignocellulosic biomass to ethanol. The technique is shown to be useful for ranking the processes and illustrating the importance of the timeframe ofthe analysis on the decision process. The results show that acid hydrolysis processes have higher potential for near-term application (2-5 years), while the enzymatic hydrolysis approach has an equal chance to be competitive in the long term (beyond 10 years).
    Original languageAmerican English
    Number of pages8
    StatePublished - 1986

    NREL Publication Number

    • NREL/TP-231-2973


    • acid hydrolysis
    • biomass
    • decision analysis
    • process improvement


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