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Environmental and techno-economic analyses of bio-jet fuel produced from jatropha and castor oilseeds in China



Bio-jet fuel derived from energy crops has been promoted by governments around the world through policies such as the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation. The environmental impact and techno-economic analysis of bio-jet fuel are particularly pertinent to China because China is under huge pressure to reduce emissions, endeavouring to meet bio-economic goals.


An LCA study was conducted on the production of bio-jet fuel from jatropha and castor by estimating the well-to-wake emissions and its economic impact. The functional unit was 1 MJ of bio-jet fuel, and field survey data was used in inventory analysis. A scenario analysis was performed to measure diverse conditions, including the planting conditions, planting regions, allocation methods, and hydrogen sources. A techno-economic analysis that combined the production costs and co-product credits was performed to calculate the minimum bio-jet fuel selling price (MJSP) based on a plant capacity of 2400 metric tonnes of feedstock per day.

Results and discussion

Compared to the environmental impacts to the fossil jet fuel, the use of biofuel would reduce the majority environmental impacts by 36–85%, when a 1:1 displacement of fossil jet fuel is considered, though the human toxicity potential impact was 100% higher. The scenario analysis indicated that (i) planting castor in harsh and unevenly distributed conditions and jatropha in stable or fertile conditions can leverage their respective advantage; (ii) the global warming potential (GWP) from castor planting in the region of north-east China ranges from 34 to 48 g CO2 eq/MJ; (iii) the GWP produced through the steam methane reforming process can be reduced by 16–17%, using advances in technological processes. The MJSP for fuel produced from jatropha and castor under the basic scenario is estimated to be 5.68 and 4.66 CNY/kg, respectively, which falls within the current market price range of 4.5–7.5 CNY/kg.


Bio-jet fuel from jatropha and castor oilseeds offers potential environmental benefits if they can reduce fossil jet fuel on an energy-equivalent basis. However, these benefits are likely to be reduced by the rebound effect of the fuel market. Future research is needed to better understand the magnitude of the rebound effect in China and what policy interventions can be implemented to alleviate it. Scenario analysis demonstrated the feasibility and potential of bio-jet fuel development from multiple perspectives and technological progress are conducive to the realization of environmental protection policies.

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The authors gratefully acknowledge the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. U1462206), NSFC-UKRI_EPSRC (51861165201), the China National Petroleum Corporation, and the Tsinghua University Tutor Research Fund for supporting this study. Give special  thanks to the editor and reviewers, Dr. Jinping Tian and Dr Khoshnevisan Benyamin for their valuable contribution in improving the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Xiaonan Wang or Tong Qiu.

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Communicated by Yi Yang.

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Liu, H., Zhang, C., Tian, H. et al. Environmental and techno-economic analyses of bio-jet fuel produced from jatropha and castor oilseeds in China. Int J Life Cycle Assess 26, 1071–1084 (2021).

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  • Life cycle analysis
  • Bio-jet fuel
  • Jatropha
  • Castor
  • Scenario analysis
  • Hydrogen
  • Techno-economic analysis