Biomass Conversion and Biorefinery

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 1–19 | Cite as

Life cycle assessment of pyrolysis oil applications

Original Article

Abstract

In this study, different alternatives of bio-oil use are evaluated through life cycle assessment. Bio-oil is produced via fast pyrolysis of hybrid poplar and used as a fuel for cogeneration in a district heating plant, for co-combustion in a coal power plant, or as feedstock for its upgrading via hydrotreating in biorefineries. For the latter, two different configurations are assessed: one with the pyrolysis plant integrated in the biorefinery and another with several decentralized pyrolysis plants that deliver bio-oil to a central biorefinery. Process data are obtained by simulation in Aspen Plus®. The assessment follows an avoided burden approach, with all products of the processes replacing equivalent conventional products. Although the cogeneration option shows the highest life cycle energy savings, co-combustion in coal power plants (substituting coal) shows the best results in most of the assessed categories. The two biorefinery options generally score worse than direct combustion. When compared against each other, the main difference in their environmental impact arises from the use of the co-produced char, while transport distances have little influence. In order to assess the influence of the assumptions concerning the substituted products, alternative utilizations of the products are further investigated. The environmental performance of the assessed processes is found to be highly conditioned by the use assumed for the products.

Keywords

Bio-oil Biorefinery Cogeneration Combustion Life cycle assessment Process simulation 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research has been partly supported by the Regional Government of Madrid (S2009/ENE-1743) and the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (ENE2011-29643-C02-01).

Glossary

ADP

Abiotic depletion potential

AP

Acidification potential

BR-d

Decentralized biorefinery

BR-i

Integrated biorefinery

CC

Co-combustion

CEDnr

Nonrenewable (fossil plus nuclear) cumulative energy demand

CEDt

Total cumulative energy demand

CFB

Circulating fluidized bed

CG

Cogeneration

CGG

Char and gas combustor

CHP

Combined heat and power

CoMo

Cobalt-molybdenum

EEA

European Environment Agency

EP

Eutrophication potential

EU

European Union

FU

Functional unit

GHG

Greenhouse gas

GWP100

Global warming potential (100-year perspective)

HDO

Hydrodeoxygenation

LCA

Life cycle assessment

ODP

Ozone layer depletion potential

PSA

Pressure swing adsorption

SRC

Short-rotation crop

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jens F. Peters
    • 1
  • Diego Iribarren
    • 1
  • Javier Dufour
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Systems Analysis UnitInstituto IMDEA EnergíaMóstolesSpain
  2. 2.Department of Chemical and Energy TechnologyRey Juan Carlos UniversityMóstolesSpain

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