Comparative life cycle assessment of corn stover conversion by decentralized biomass pyrolysis-electrocatalytic hydrogenation versus ethanol fermentation
Quantification of environmental impacts through life cycle assessment is essential when evaluating bioenergy systems as potential replacements for fossil-based energy systems. Bioenergy systems employing localized fast pyrolysis combined with electrocatalytic hydrogenation followed by centralized hydroprocessing (Py-ECH) can have higher carbon and energy efficiencies than traditional cellulosic biorefineries. A cradle-to-grave life cycle assessment was performed to compare the performance of Py-ECH versus cellulosic fermentation in three environmental impact categories: climate change, water scarcity, and eutrophication. Liquid hydrocarbon production using Py-ECH was found to have much lower eutrophication potential and water scarcity footprint than cellulosic ethanol production. Greater amounts of renewable electricity led to lower greenhouse gas emissions for the Py-ECH processing. When the renewable fraction of grid electricity is higher than 87%, liquid hydrocarbon production using Py-ECH has lower greenhouse gas emissions than cellulosic ethanol production. A sensitivity analysis illustrates the major role of annual soil carbon sequestration in determining system-wide net greenhouse gas emissions.
Renewable electricity futures; Carbon sequestration; Bioethanol production; Water consumption; Tillage
Das, S., Anderson, J., De Kleine, R., Wallington, T., Jackson, J., and Saffron, C. (2023). "Comparative life cycle assessment of corn stover conversion by decentralized biomass pyrolysis-electrocatalytic hydrogenation versus ethanol fermentation." Sustainable Energy & Fuels, Volume 7, Issue 3, 797-811. CSS23-19