Biofuel Life-Cycle Analysis
- 733 Downloads
Life-cycle analysis (LCA) is an important tool used to assess the energy and environmental impacts of biofuels. Here, we review biofuel LCA methodology and its application in transportation fuel regulations in the United States, the European Union, and the United Kingdom. We examine the application of LCA to the production of ethanol from corn, sugarcane, corn stover, switchgrass, and miscanthus. A discussion of methodological choices such as co-product handling techniques in biofuel LCA is also provided. Further, we discuss the estimation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of land use changes (LUC) potentially caused by biofuels, which can significantly influence LCA results. Finally, we provide results from LCAs of ethanol from various sources. Regardless of feedstock, bioethanol offers reduced GHG emissions over fossil-derived gasoline, even when LUC GHG emissions are included. This is mainly caused by displacement of fossil carbon in gasoline with biogenic carbon in ethanol. Of the ethanol pathways examined, corn ethanol has the greatest life-cycle GHG emissions and offers 30% reduction in life-cycle GHG emissions as compared to gasoline when LUC GHG emissions are included. Miscanthus ethanol demonstrates the highest life-cycle GHG emissions reductions compared to gasoline, 109%, when LUC GHG emissions are included.
KeywordsLife cycle analysis Land use change Greenhouse gas emissions
Brazilian Development Bank
Brazilian land use model
California Air Resources Board
Carbon calculator for land use change from biofuels production
Computable general equilibrium
Center for Global Environmental Education
Combined heat and power
Carbon online estimator
Department of Energy
Energy Independence and Security Act
Environmental Protection Agency
Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute—Center for Agricultural and Rural Development
Forestry and agricultural sector optimization model
Fuel quality directive
Greenhouse gases, regulated emissions, and energy use in tranpsortation
Global trade analysis project
Harvested wood product
Institute for international trade negotiations
International energy agency
International Food Policy Research Institute
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis
Indirect land use change
Intergovernmental panel on climate change
Low-carbon fuel standard
Land use change
National Council for Air and Stream Improvement
Renewable energy directive
Renewable fuel standard
Renewable transport fuels obligation
Soil organic carbon
Soil organic matter
Short rotation woody crops
Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association
United States Department of Agriculture
This work is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Basic Energy Sciences, Office of Science, under contract # DE-AC02-06CH11357.
- Andress, D. 2002. Soil carbon changes for bioenergy crops (report prepared for Argonne National Laboratory and U.S. Department of Energy). http://greet.es.anl.gov/publication-rfihxb2h. Accessed 22 Jan 2013.
- Argonne National Laboratory. 2012. GREET model. http://greet.es.anl.gov/ (Accessed 06 Feb 2013).
- Arora, S., Wu, M., and M. Wang. 2011. Update of distillers grains displacement ratios for corn ethanol life-cycle analysis. Argonne National Laboratory Report ANL/ESD/11-1.Google Scholar
- BioGrace Website. http://www.biograce.net/home. (Accessed 28 Jan 2013).
- BNDES, CGEE. 2008. Sugarcane-based bioethanol: Energy for sustainable development, 304. Rio de Janeiro: BNDES.Google Scholar
- Boddey, R.M., Polidoro, J.C., Resende, A.S., Alves, B.J.R., and S. Urquiaga. 2001. Use of the 15 N natural abundance technique for the quantification of the contribution of N2 fixation to grasses and cereals. Australian Journal of Plant Physiology 28:889–895.Google Scholar
- British Standards Institute (BSI). 2011. PAS 2050: 2011 specification for the assessment of the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of goods and services. London: British Standards.Google Scholar
- California Air Resources Board (CARB). 2009a. Proposed regulation to implement the low carbon fuel standard volume I staff report: Initial statement of reasons. California Environmental Protection Agency, Air Resources Board. Release Date: 05 March 2009.Google Scholar
- CARB. 2009b. Staff report: Detailed California-modified GREET pathway for Brazilian sugar cane ethanol, Version 2.2. Stationary Source Division. Release Date: 20 July 2009.Google Scholar
- CARB. 2014. iLUC analysis for the low carbon fuel standard (Update). Presentation given at public workshop March 11, 2014. http://www.arb.ca.gov/fuels/lcfs/lcfs_meetings/iluc_presentation_031014.pdf (Accessed 19 May 2014).
- Carmo, J.B.D., S. Filoso, L.C. Zotelli, E.R. Sousa Neto, L.M. Pitombo, P.J. Duarte-Neto, V.P. Vargas, C.A. Andrade, G.J.C. Gava, R. Rossetto, H. Cantarella, A.E. Neto, and L.A. Martinelli. 2012. Infield greenhouse gas emissions from sugarcane soils in Brazil: effects from synthetic and organic fertilizer application and crop trash accumulation. GCB Bioenergy 5: 1–14.Google Scholar
- Carnegie Mellon University Green Design Institute. Economic Input-Output Life Cycle Assessment (EIO-LCA). 2008. http://www.eiolca.net (Accessed 22 Jan 2013).
- De Figueiredo, E.B., and N. La Scala Jr. 2011. Greenhouse gas balance due to the conversion of sugarcane areas from burned to green harvest in Brazil. Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment 141(1–2):77–85.Google Scholar
- Delucchi, M. 2003. A lifecycle emissions model (LEM): Lifecycle emissions from transportation fuels, motor vehicles, transportation modes, electricity use, heating and cooking fuels, and materials. Report UCD-ITS-RR-03-17. Davis, California.Google Scholar
- Department for Transport (DfT), UK. 2012. Renewable transport fuels obligation (RFFO). https://www.gov.uk/renewable-transport-fuels-obligation (Accessed 15 Dec 2012).
- Dunn, J.B., Mueller, S., Kwon, H., and M.Q. Wang. 2013. Land-use change and greenhouse gas emissions from corn and cellulosic ethanol. Biotechnology for Biofuels under review.Google Scholar
- Dutta, A., Talmadge, M., Hensley, J., Worley, M., Dudgeon, D., Barton, D., Groenendijk, P., Ferrari, D., Stears, B., Searcy, E.M., Wright, C.T., and Hess, J.R. 2011. Process for design and economics for conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to ethanol thermochemical pathway by indirect gasification and mixed alcohol synthesis. Report NREL/TP-5100-51400. Golden, CO: National Renewable Energy Laboratory. http://www.nrel.gov/biomass/pdfs/51400.pdf.
- Edwards, R., Mulligan, D., and L. Marelli. 2010. Indirect land use change from increased biofuels demand comparison of models and results from different feedstocks. Report for European Commission Joint Research Center. Ispra, Italy.Google Scholar
- European Comission (EC). 2009. Directive 2009/28/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources and amending and subsequently repealing Directives 2001/77/EC and 2003/ 30/EC.Google Scholar
- EC. 2010. Commission decision of 10 June 2010 on guidelines for the calculation of land carbon stocks for the purpose of Annex V to Directive 2009/28/EC. Official Journal of the European Union, 17.6.2010, L151/19. (Notified under document C (2010) 3751) (2010/335/EU).Google Scholar
- EC. 2012. Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 98/70/EC relating to the qulatiy of petrol and diesel fuels and amending Directive 2009/28/EC on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources. 2012/0288, Brussels, Belgium.Google Scholar
- FAPRI. 2011. Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI)/Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD). U.S.: Iowa State University.Google Scholar
- Fargione, J., Hill, J., Tilman, D., Polasky, S., and P. Hawthorne. 2008. Land cleaning and biofuel carbon debt. Science 319:1235–3.Google Scholar
- GREET. 2011. Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation (GREET) model. Argonne National Laboratory/U.S. Department of Energy.Google Scholar
- Guretzky, J.A., Biermacher, J.T., Cook, B.J., Kering, M.K., and J. Mosali. 2010. Switchgrass for forage and bioenergy: Harvest and nitrogen rate effects on biomass yields and nutrient composition. Plant Soil doi: 10.1007/s11104-010-0376-4.
- Heath, L.S., Birdsey, R.A., Row, C., and A.J. Plantinga. 1996. Carbon pools and flux in U.S. forest products. In Forest Ecosystems, Forest Management, and the Global Carbon Cycle, eds. M.J. Apps and D.T. Price. NATO ASI Series I: Global Environmental Changes, vol. 40, p. 271–278, Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
- Humbird, D., Davis, R., Tao, L., Kinchin, C., Hsu, D., Aden, A., Schoen, P., Lukas, J., Olthof, B., Worley, M., Sexton, D., and D. Dudgeon. 2011. Process design and economics for biochemical conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to ethanol dilute-acid pretreatment and enzymatic hydrolysis of corn stover. Report NREL/TP-5100-47764. Golden, CO: National Renewable Energy Laboratory. http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy11osti/47764.pdf.
- IEE. 2010. Intelligent Energy Europe (IEE) Project BioGrace. Harmonised Calculations of Biofuel Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Europe.Google Scholar
- International Energy Agency (IEA). 2012. Energy Technology Perspective 2012: Pathways to a Clean Energy System. Paris, France.Google Scholar
- Kwon, H., Wander, M., Mueller, S., and J.B. Dunn. 2013. Modeling state-level soil carbon emission factors under various scenarios for direct land use change associated with United States biofuel feedstock production. Biomass and Bioenergy under review.Google Scholar
- Laborde, D. 2011. Assessing the land use change consequences of European biofuel policies. Final Report, International Food Policy Research Institute.Google Scholar
- Ludwig-Bölkow-Systemtechnik-GMBH (LBSM). 2012. E3 database. http://www.e3database.com/ (Accessed 6 Dec 2012).
- Macedo, I.C. 1998. Greenhouse gas emissions and energy balances in bio-ethanol production and utilization in Brazil (1996). Biomass and Bioenergy 14: 77–81.Google Scholar
- Macedo, I.C. 2005. A energia da cana-de-açúcar – doze estudos sobre a agroindústria da cana-de-açúcar no Brasil e sua sustentabilidade. Editora Berlendis & Vertecchia, São Paulo 2005: 245.Google Scholar
- Macedo, I.C., M.R.L.V. Leal, and J.E.A.R. Silva. 2004. Balanço das emissões de gases de efeito estufa na produção e no uso do etanol no Brasil. Governo de São Paulo: Secretaria do Meio Ambiente.Google Scholar
- Macedo, I.C., and J.E.A. Seabra. 2008. Mitigation of GHG emissions using sugarcane bioethanol. In Sugarcane ethanol: Contributions to climate change mitigation and the environment, ed. P. Zuurbier, and J. van de Vooren, 95–111. Wageningen: Wageningen Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
- Mueller, S., Dunn, J.B., and M. Wang. 2012. Carbon calculator for land use change from biofuels production (CCLUB) users’ manual and technical documentation. 2012 ANL/ESD/12-5.Google Scholar
- Nassar, A.M., Antoniazzi, L.B., Moreira, M.R., Chiodi, L., and L. Harfuch. 2010. An allocation methodology to assess GHG emissions associated with land use change. Final Report, Institute for International Trade Negotiations (ICONE).Google Scholar
- Nogueira, L.A.H. 1987. Análise da utilização de energia na produção de álcool de cana-de-açúcar. PhD Thesis, Unicamp (1987).Google Scholar
- Plevin, R.J., Gibbs, H.K., Duffy, J., Yui, S., and S. Yeh. 2014. Agro-ecological Zone Emission Factor (AEZ-EF) Model. http://www.arb.ca.gov/fuels/lcfs/lcfs_meetings/aezef-report.pdf (Accessed 14 May 2014).
- Pielke, R.A., A. Pitman, D. Niyogi, R. Mahmood, C. McAlpine, F. Hossain, K.K. Goldewijk, U. Nair, R. Betts, S. Fall, M. Reichstein, P. Kabat, and N. de Noblet. 2011. Land use/land cover changes and climate: Modeling analysis and observational evidence. WIRE: Climate Change 2: 828–850.Google Scholar
- Popp, A., J.P. Dietrich, H. Lotze-Campen, D. Klein, N. Bauer, M. Krause, T. Beringer, D. Gerten, and O. Edenhofer. 2011. The economic potential of bioenergy for climate change mitigation with special attention given to implications for the land system. Environmental Research Letters 6: 034017.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). 2013. 2013 Ethanol Industry Outlook: Accelerating Industry Innovation. Washington, DC: Renewable Fuels Association.Google Scholar
- Soares, L.H.B., Alves, B.J.R., Urquiaga, S., and R.M. Boddey. 2009. Mitigação das emissões de gases efeito estufa pelo uso de etanol da cana-de-açúcar produzido no Brasil. Circular Técnica 27, Embrapa. Seropédica, RJ.Google Scholar
- Taheripour, F., Tyner, W.E., and M.Q. Wang. 2011. Global land use changes due to the U.S. cellulosic biofuel program simulated with the GTAP model. http://greet.es.anl.gov/publication-luc_ethanol (Accessed 14 Aug 2012).
- Brazilian Sugarcane Association (UNICA). 2009. Letter to California Air Resource Board about proposed Low Carbon Fuel Standard, Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA). 16 April 2009.Google Scholar
- UNICA. 2013. UNICA Data Center 2013 (available at http://www.unicadata.com.br/index.php?idioma=2 (Accessed 14 May 2014).
- U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). 2010. Quick Stats 2.0 2010 http://www.nass.usda.gov/Data_and_Statistics/Pre-Defined_Queries/2010_Corn_Upland_Cotton_Fall_Potatoes/index.asp (Accessed 04 Jan 2013).
- U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). 2011a. Report on the First Quadrennial Technology Review. Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
- U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). 2011b. US Billion-Ton Update: Biomass Supply for a Bioenergy and Bioproducts Industry. Oak Ridge National Laboratory for DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Biomass Office: Washington, DC.Google Scholar
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 2010. United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Renewable Fuel Standard Program (RFS2), Regulatory Impact Analysis. Assessment and Standards Division, Office of Transport and Air Quality U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. EPA-420-R-10-006, Feb 2010.Google Scholar
- Walter, A., Galdos, M.V., Scarpare, F.V., Leal, M.R.L.V., Seabra, J.E.A., Cunha, M.P., Picoli, M.C.A., and C.O.F. Oliveira. 2013. Brazilian sugarcane ethanol: Developments so far and challenges for the future. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Energy and Environment (forthcoming).Google Scholar
- Wang, M., M. Wu, H. Huo, and J. Liu. 2008. Life-cycle energy use and greenhouse gas emission implications of Brazilian sugarcane ethanol simulated with the GREET model. International Sugar Journal 110: 527–545.Google Scholar