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Clean Technologies and Environmental Policy

, Volume 21, Issue 9, pp 1765–1777 | Cite as

Environmental sustainability assessment of an ethylene oxide production process through Cumulative Exergy Demand and ReCiPe

  • Ali GhannadzadehEmail author
  • Alireza Meymivand
Original Paper
  • 102 Downloads

Abstract

The environmental burdens of the ethylene oxide production processes are becoming more and more important due to the release of very harmful chemical components as well as its high-energy demand. One way to moderate its environmental burdens within the energy transition period is the natural gas/biomass-based scenarios. However, this Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study reports that natural gas is not a right alternative for this special case, where natural gas-based scenarios are less sustainable than the residual fuel oil-based scenarios particularly concerning fossil depletion (93%), freshwater ecotoxicity (76%), marine ecotoxicity (59%), human ecotoxicity (53%), terrestrial acidification (51%) and particulate matter formation (40%). On the other hand, the LCA study shows that without revamping the heart of the process technology, the reduction in the environmental burdens is possible through biomass. The biomass-based scenarios reduce the burdens from 4.40 to 4.36 MJ (equivalent of non-renewables) according to Cumulative Exergy Demand or from 2.18E−04 to 1.85E−04 (dimensionless normalized results) in accordance with ReCiPe, preparing the way to a sustainable ethylene oxide process within the energy transition period where revamping the heart of the process technology is not desired.

Graphic abstract

Keywords

Ethylene oxide Life Cycle Assessment Energy transition Monte Carlo simulation Process design Exergy 

Abbreviation

BM

Biomass

CC

Climate change

CED

Cumulative Energy Demand

CML

Centre of Environmental Sciences—Leiden University

DALY

Disability-adjusted life years

EM

Energy mix

EQ

Ecosystem quality

ES

Ecosystems

FD

Fossil depletion

FE

Freshwater ecotoxicity

FEW

Freshwater eutrophication

HH

Human health

LCA

Life Cycle Assessment

LCI

Life Cycle Inventory

LCIA

Life Cycle Impact Assessment

MCS

Monte Carlo simulation

NG

Natural gas

NMVOC

Non-methane volatile organic compounds

OD

Ozone depletion

PG

Power generation

PMF

Particulate matter formation

POF

Photochemical oxidant formation

ReCiPe

RIVM (RijksinstituutvoorVolksgezondheiden Milieu) and Radboud University, Centre of Environmental Sciences—Leiden University, and PRé Consultants

RFO

Residual fuel oil

SY

species.yr

TA

Terrestrial acidification

TE

Terrestrial ecotoxicity

Notes

Supplementary material

10098_2019_1748_MOESM1_ESM.doc (80 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 80 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemical EngineeringHamedan University of TechnologyHamedanIran
  2. 2.Aachen-Maastricht Institute for Biobased MaterialsMaastricht UniversityGeleenThe Netherlands

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