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Biofuel Life-Cycle Analysis

  • Jennifer B. DunnEmail author
  • Jeongwoo Han
  • Joaquim Seabra
  • Michael Wang
Chapter
  • 733 Downloads
Part of the Natural Resource Management and Policy book series (NRMP, volume 40)

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Life cycle analysis Land use change Greenhouse gas emissions 

Acronyms

Acronym

Definition

AEZ

Agro-ecological zone

BNDES

Brazilian Development Bank

BLUM

Brazilian land use model

CARB

California Air Resources Board

CCLUB

Carbon calculator for land use change from biofuels production

CGE

Computable general equilibrium

CGEE

Center for Global Environmental Education

CHP

Combined heat and power

COLE

Carbon online estimator

DOE

Department of Energy

EC

European Commission

EIO

Economic input-output

EISA

Energy Independence and Security Act

EPA

Environmental Protection Agency

EU

European Union

FAPRI-CARD

Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute—Center for Agricultural and Rural Development

FASOM

Forestry and agricultural sector optimization model

FQD

Fuel quality directive

GHG

Greenhouse gas

GREET

Greenhouse gases, regulated emissions, and energy use in tranpsortation

GTAP

Global trade analysis project

HWP

Harvested wood product

ICONE

Institute for international trade negotiations

IEA

International energy agency

IFPRI

International Food Policy Research Institute

IIASA

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis

iLUC

Indirect land use change

IPCC

Intergovernmental panel on climate change

LCA

Life-cycle analysis

LCFS

Low-carbon fuel standard

iLUC

Land use change

NCASI

National Council for Air and Stream Improvement

PE

Partial equilibrium

PTW

Pump-to-wheels

RED

Renewable energy directive

RFS2

Renewable fuel standard

RTFO

Renewable transport fuels obligation

SOC

Soil organic carbon

SOM

Soil organic matter

SRWC

Short rotation woody crops

UK

United Kingdom

UNICA

Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association

USDA

United States Department of Agriculture

WTP

Well-to-pump

WTW

Well-to-wheels

Notes

Acknowledgments

This work is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Basic Energy Sciences, Office of Science, under contract # DE-AC02-06CH11357.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer B. Dunn
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jeongwoo Han
    • 1
  • Joaquim Seabra
    • 2
  • Michael Wang
    • 1
  1. 1.Energy Systems DivisionArgonne National LaboratoryArgonneUSA
  2. 2.UNICAMPCampinasBrazil

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