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


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


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





Climate change


Cumulative Energy Demand


Centre of Environmental Sciences—Leiden University


Disability-adjusted life years


Energy mix


Ecosystem quality




Fossil depletion


Freshwater ecotoxicity


Freshwater eutrophication


Human health


Life Cycle Assessment


Life Cycle Inventory


Life Cycle Impact Assessment


Monte Carlo simulation


Natural gas


Non-methane volatile organic compounds


Ozone depletion


Power generation


Particulate matter formation


Photochemical oxidant formation


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


Residual fuel oil




Terrestrial acidification


Terrestrial ecotoxicity


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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