Life cycle assessment tools for emerging renewable fuels, chemicals, and materials

Meeting ID: 989 9667 9464; Passcode: 347168
Assoc. Prof. Sabrina Spatari; Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Technion

Advanced biofuels are under development to meet policy goals for diversifying energy supply, reducing the carbon-intensity of transportation and other sectors, and stimulating rural economic development. Countries around the world have developed renewable and low carbon fuel policies that incentivize bringing transport fuels derived from biomass to market. Currently, biochemical and thermochemical technologies are under development at laboratory and pilot scale to investigate the technological needs of scaling biofuels and value-added co-products. Ethanol, higher alcohols, and fully infrastructure compatible fuels (with 0% oxygen – physically and chemically similar to current petroleum-based fuels) are being developed at different scales, including farm/distributed scale (up to 200 dry metric tons/day) and industrial scale (2000 dry metric tons/day and higher) to utilize diverse lignocellulose resources. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a method for evaluating the environmental performance of product systems, which over the last two decades, has become integral to judging the compliance of renewable or “low carbon” fuels in energy policy. This lecture reviews the development of and results from LCA and techno-economic analysis (TEA) models for transport fuels and co-products under development via biochemical conversion and upgrading of multiple biomass resources (agricultural residues and dedicated energy crops) and readily available fats and oils and benchmarks them relative to conventional fuels made from petroleum. Some of the challenges in modeling early-stage biomass conversion and upgrading to fuels and chemicals are discussed along with strategies for overcoming them.