Major U.S. pipeline company Colonial Pipeline is using geographic information system (GIS) technology to study the feasibility of shipping ethanol by pipeline.
According to a press release from ESRI, a mapping and software company, Colonial is using GIS to find the best ways to get ethanol from the production areas of the Midwest to pipelines and terminals and retail gas stations on the coasts.
Working with GIS technology, Colonial has been able to build business models for shipping ethanol via pipelines. Within the business model, Colonial can weigh the costs associated with various railroads, the production capacity for each ethanol plant, and the various transit times from producer to pipeline. Colonial engineers map and model possible scenarios of transporting ethanol from producer to train, barge, or truck and pipelines and terminals, then back to trucks. Concurrently, the company can analyze population data within the GIS to determine where the greatest demand for ethanol exists.