A life cycle assessment of options for producing synthetic fuel via pyrolysis

D. N. Vienescu, J. Wang, A. Le-Gresley, Jonathan Nixon

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    55 Citations (Scopus)
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    The aim of this study was to investigate the sustainability of producing synthetic fuels from biomass using thermochemical processing and different upgrading pathways. Life cycle assessment (LCA) models consisting of biomass collection, transportation, pre-treatment, pyrolysis and upgrading stages were developed. To reveal the environmental impacts associated with greater post-processing to achieve higher quality fuels, six different bio-oil upgrading scenarios were analysed and included esterification, ketonisation, hydrotreating and hydrocracking. Furthermore, to take into account the possible ranges in LCA inventory data, expected, optimistic and pessimistic values for producing and upgrading pyrolysis oils were evaluated. We found that the expected carbon dioxide equivalent emissions could be as high 6000 gCO2e/kg of upgraded fuel, which is greater than the emissions arising from the use of diesel fuel. Other environmental impacts occurring from the fuel production process are outlined, such as resource depletion, acidification and eutrophication.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)626-634
    JournalBioresource Technology
    Early online date20 Oct 2017
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018

    Bibliographical note

    Publisher Statement: NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Bioresource Technology. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Bioresource Technology, [(in press), (2017)] DOI: 10.1016/j.biortech.2017.10.069

    © 2017, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0


    • Biofuel
    • Environmental impact
    • Thermochemical conversion
    • Bio-oil upgrading
    • Global warming potential (GWP)
    • Life cycle assessment (LCA)


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