Multimodal Freight Energy Model for Emerging Freight Technology Analysis

Research output: NRELPoster


While freight movement represents a small portion of the volume in the transportation sector, they are a critical contributor for energy consumed in that sector. To reduce logistics costs, energy consumption and negative environmental impact, emerging technologies, such as digitalization of logistics and alternative powertrain, have been developed and extended applications in freight. These trends are expected to grow and provide opportunities for greater efficiencies in freight movement and corresponding energy use. Still, the complexity of freight systems present challenges in evaluating these benefits, especially in the multimodal inter-city freight. Addressing the research need, this paper develops a multimodal freight energy modeling framework for the analysis of emerging freight technology scenarios. The framework is a bi-level optimization problem: network cost minimization problem (lower-level) and energy minimization problem (upper-level). The lower-level problem is a mode-path assignment problem in multimodal inter-city freight networks, where commodity-specific congestion effects on trans-shipment links are considered. For this model, an inverse modeling approach is applied to infer parameters of the lower-level model. The upper-level problem is designed to search for an optimal scenario that has the lowest energy consumption among different levels of technology applications. The proposed model is empirically tested to analyze truck load-pooling and multimodal load-pooling scenarios through stand-alone and mixed applications using freight shipments originating from or destined to the Chicago region. This framework can be used to explore the impact of emerging freight technologies on mode-path freight flow and energy consumption in the national multimodal freight network.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NamePresented at the 2021 TRB Annual Meeting, 25-29 January 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PO-5400-78940


  • freight energy
  • freight transport
  • load-pooling
  • multimodal network
  • optimization


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