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Total environmental impacts of biofuels from corn stover using a hybrid life cycle assessment model combining process life cycle assessment and economic input-output life cycle assessment

Total environmental impacts of biofuels from corn stover using a hybrid life cycle assessment model combining process life cycle assessment and economic input-output life cycle assessment

Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management 14(1): 139-149

ISSN/ISBN: 1551-3777

PMID: 28796442

DOI: 10.1002/ieam.1969

Studies on the environmental analysis of biofuels by fast pyrolysis and hydroprocessing (BFPH) have so far focused only on the environmental impacts from direct emissions and have included few indirect emissions. The influence of ignoring some indirect emissions on the environmental performance of BFPH has not been well investigated and hence is not really understood. In addition, in order to avoid shifting environmental problems from one medium to another, a comprehensive assessment of environmental impacts caused by the processes must quantify the environmental emissions to all media (air, water, and land) in relation to each life cycle stage. A well-to-wheels assessment of the total environmental impacts resulting from direct emissions and indirect emissions of a BFPH system with corn stover is conducted using a hybrid life cycle assessment (LCA) model combining the economic input-output LCA and the process LCA. The Tool for the Reduction and Assessment of Chemical and other environmental Impacts (TRACI) has been used to estimate the environmental impacts in terms of acidification, eutrophication, global climate change, ozone depletion, human health criteria, photochemical smog formation, ecotoxicity, human health cancer, and human health noncancer caused by 1 MJ biofuel production. Taking account of all the indirect greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the net GHG emissions (81.8 g CO2 eq/MJ) of the biofuels are still less than those of petroleum-based fuels (94 g CO2 eq/MJ). Maize production and pyrolysis and hydroprocessing make major contributions to all impact categories except the human health criteria. All impact categories resulting from indirect emissions except eutrophication and smog air make more than 24% contribution to the total environmental impacts. Therefore, the indirect emissions are important and cannot be ignored. Sensitivity analysis has shown that corn stover yield and bio-oil yield affect the total environmental impacts of the biofuels more significantly than the biomass transportation distance and biofuel transportation distance. Integr Environ Assess Manag 2018;14:139-149. © 2017 SETAC.

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