Modelling Optimal Routes for Process Synthesis in Agrifood Industry


Feeding the future world population, while reducing the environmental impact of the food production system, requires a robust, resource efficient food production system. In such a system an agro-material has to be optimally converted into a range of valuable end products. To find the process pathways that enable this optimal conversion, a systematic approach to process (re-)design is necessary.

This project falls in the larger framework of the Institute for Sustainable Process Technology (ISPT) and the laboratory of Food Process Engineering (FPE) and the Operations Research and Logistics (ORL) group at Wageningen University.


The goal of this research project is to develop a methodology to systematically design optimal pathways for processing agro-materials, converting them into a range of valuable products, while generating minimal waste or low-value by-products. Specific attention is given to the specific characteristics of food production chains like region-specific availability, seasonality and quality.


In the field of process engineering, models exist to determine the optimal process pathways that convert a raw material into a specific (set of) end products, a product portfolio. However, these models often do not consider the impact of the associated (Food) Supply Chain ((F)SC). Models to optimise (F)SCs have been developed in the field of operations research and supply chain management, but these models often consider the processing level as a black box. Combining these two models is a necessity to determine which process pathways lead to a resource efficient food production system. Within the project, the link between the fields of process engineering, operations research and (F)SC design will be used, to develop a methodology for an integral approach to the (re-)design of food manufacturing processes. Involvement of practical knowledge from the FPE group and the industrial partners of ISPT enable to create a relevant decision support model that serves as a base for the design methodology to be developed.

Internship and thesis opportunities

There are several possibilities for students to conduct their BSc-thesis or MSc-thesis within this project. Having participated in the course Decision Science 1 (ORL-20306) or Operations Research and Logistics (ORL-30806) are prerequisites for a BSc-thesis or a MSc-thesis, respectively.

For information on the availability of an internship placement with one of the industrial partners of the project, or possible topics for a thesis, please contact the ORL thesis coordinator Frits Claassen.


The project is carried out within the framework of the Institute for Sustainable Process Technology (the Netherlands).