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Bioethanol from poplar clone Imola: an environmentally viable alternative to fossil fuel?

Guo M, Li C, Facciotto G, Bergante S, Bhatia R, Comolli R, Ferré C, Murphy R - Biotechnol Biofuels (2015)

Bottom Line: In particular, soil carbon accumulation in perennial biomass plantations is likely to be a significant component in the overall greenhouse gas balance of future biofuel and other biorefinery products and warrants ongoing research and data collection for LCA models.We conclude that bioethanol produced from Imola represents a promising alternative transport fuel offering some savings ranging from 35 to 100 % over petrol in global warming potential, ozone depletion and photochemical oxidation impact categories.Advanced clones of poplar such as Imola for 2G biofuel production in Italy as modelled here show potential to deliver an environmentally sustainable lignocellulosic biorefinery industry and accelerate advanced biofuel penetration in the transport sector.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Chemical Engineering, Imperial College London, London, SW7 2AZ UK ; Department of Life Sciences, Imperial College London, London, SW7 2AZ UK.

ABSTRACT

Background: Environmental issues, e.g. climate change, fossil resource depletion have triggered ambitious national/regional policies to develop biofuel and bioenergy roles within the overall energy portfolio to achieve decarbonising the global economy and increase energy security. With the 10 % binding target for the transport sector, the Renewable Energy Directive confirms the EU's commitment to renewable transport fuels especially advanced biofuels. Imola is an elite poplar clone crossed from Populus deltoides Bartr. and Populus nigra L. by Research Units for Intensive Wood Production, Agriculture Research Council in Italy. This study examines its suitability for plantation cultivation under short or very short rotation coppice regimes as a potential lignocellulosic feedstock for the production of ethanol as a transport biofuel. A life cycle assessment (LCA) approach was used to model the cradle-to-gate environmental profile of Imola-derived biofuel benchmarked against conventional fossil gasoline. Specific attention was given to analysing the agroecosystem fluxes of carbon and nitrogen occurring in the cultivation of the Imola biomass in the biofuel life cycle using a process-oriented biogeochemistry model (DeNitrification-DeComposition) specifically modified for application to 2G perennial bioenergy crops and carbon and nitrogen cycling.

Results: Our results demonstrate that carbon and nitrogen cycling in perennial crop-soil ecosystems such as this example can be expected to have significant effects on the overall environmental profiles of 2G biofuels. In particular, soil carbon accumulation in perennial biomass plantations is likely to be a significant component in the overall greenhouse gas balance of future biofuel and other biorefinery products and warrants ongoing research and data collection for LCA models. We conclude that bioethanol produced from Imola represents a promising alternative transport fuel offering some savings ranging from 35 to 100 % over petrol in global warming potential, ozone depletion and photochemical oxidation impact categories.

Conclusions: Via comparative analyses for Imola-derived bioethanol across potential supply chains, we highlight priority issues for potential improvement in 2G biofuel profiling. Advanced clones of poplar such as Imola for 2G biofuel production in Italy as modelled here show potential to deliver an environmentally sustainable lignocellulosic biorefinery industry and accelerate advanced biofuel penetration in the transport sector.

No MeSH data available.


Sensitivity analyses on allocation approach per functional unit. Functional unit: 100 km driven in a FFV. LCIA characterisation method: CML 2 baseline 2000
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Fig9: Sensitivity analyses on allocation approach per functional unit. Functional unit: 100 km driven in a FFV. LCIA characterisation method: CML 2 baseline 2000

Mentions: The results for all LCIA have been presented as normalised comparisons (%) in Figs. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10. The LCIA scores for each individual impact category and scenario are given in Additional file 1: Tables S3-S16. Overall, irrigation, agrochemical inputs and the induced field emissions are the dominant factors driving the cradle-to-farm-gate environmental profiles of Imola biomass cultivated under different plantation management regimes, i.e. SRC and VSRC (Fig. 4). Similar profiles are found on abiotic depletion, human and eco-toxicities impact categories, where irrigation and agrochemical inputs (fertilizers, pesticide and herbicides) cause 40–60 and 25–55 % of the environmental impacts, respectively. These impacts are due to the demand for grid electricity (for irrigation) from natural gas, fuel oil and coal in Italy (i.e. fossil resource consumption and toxicants, e.g. nickel beryllium, chromium, vanadium emitted during fossil fuel extraction and combustion) and the energy-intensive production processes for pesticides, herbicides and N fertilizers. Additionally, electricity for irrigation contributes 20–40 % environmental burdens on acidification, eutrophication, global warming potential (GWP100) and approximately 60 % of positive impacts on photochemical oxidation (POCP) due to the atmospheric emissions (NH3, SOx, NOx, CH4 and CO) released from natural gas, fuel oil and coal combustion and phosphorus emitted to water during coal production. 50–60 % of environmental burdens on acidification, eutrophication and GWP100 are attributed to N field emissions simulated in the agro-ecosystem DNDC modelling including NH3, N2O, NO and N leaching, whereas NO combined with net CH4 sequestration led to beneficial POCP effects (presented as negative scores below line). Such negative POCP scores are mainly attributable to the removal of CH4 from atmosphere by oxidation processes and removal of O3 via the atmospheric reaction NO + O3→NO2 + O2. Ozone depletion potential (ODP) profiles are driven by pesticide production and electricity consumed for irrigation, which in total account for 90 % of ODP impacts as a result of atmospheric emissions (CCl4, CBrF3, CBrClF2) evolved from crude oil production, diesel refinery and natural gas transportation. The DNDC-projected negative NEE, i.e. a net uptake of CO2 by the plant–soil ecosystem brings beneficial impacts (negative scores below line) on GWP100, which is sufficient to offset environmental burdens (positive scores above line) and leads to an Imola poplar cultivation system with negative C savings at the farm gate.Fig. 4


Bioethanol from poplar clone Imola: an environmentally viable alternative to fossil fuel?

Guo M, Li C, Facciotto G, Bergante S, Bhatia R, Comolli R, Ferré C, Murphy R - Biotechnol Biofuels (2015)

Sensitivity analyses on allocation approach per functional unit. Functional unit: 100 km driven in a FFV. LCIA characterisation method: CML 2 baseline 2000
© Copyright Policy - OpenAccess
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License 1 - License 2
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4558961&req=5

Fig9: Sensitivity analyses on allocation approach per functional unit. Functional unit: 100 km driven in a FFV. LCIA characterisation method: CML 2 baseline 2000
Mentions: The results for all LCIA have been presented as normalised comparisons (%) in Figs. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10. The LCIA scores for each individual impact category and scenario are given in Additional file 1: Tables S3-S16. Overall, irrigation, agrochemical inputs and the induced field emissions are the dominant factors driving the cradle-to-farm-gate environmental profiles of Imola biomass cultivated under different plantation management regimes, i.e. SRC and VSRC (Fig. 4). Similar profiles are found on abiotic depletion, human and eco-toxicities impact categories, where irrigation and agrochemical inputs (fertilizers, pesticide and herbicides) cause 40–60 and 25–55 % of the environmental impacts, respectively. These impacts are due to the demand for grid electricity (for irrigation) from natural gas, fuel oil and coal in Italy (i.e. fossil resource consumption and toxicants, e.g. nickel beryllium, chromium, vanadium emitted during fossil fuel extraction and combustion) and the energy-intensive production processes for pesticides, herbicides and N fertilizers. Additionally, electricity for irrigation contributes 20–40 % environmental burdens on acidification, eutrophication, global warming potential (GWP100) and approximately 60 % of positive impacts on photochemical oxidation (POCP) due to the atmospheric emissions (NH3, SOx, NOx, CH4 and CO) released from natural gas, fuel oil and coal combustion and phosphorus emitted to water during coal production. 50–60 % of environmental burdens on acidification, eutrophication and GWP100 are attributed to N field emissions simulated in the agro-ecosystem DNDC modelling including NH3, N2O, NO and N leaching, whereas NO combined with net CH4 sequestration led to beneficial POCP effects (presented as negative scores below line). Such negative POCP scores are mainly attributable to the removal of CH4 from atmosphere by oxidation processes and removal of O3 via the atmospheric reaction NO + O3→NO2 + O2. Ozone depletion potential (ODP) profiles are driven by pesticide production and electricity consumed for irrigation, which in total account for 90 % of ODP impacts as a result of atmospheric emissions (CCl4, CBrF3, CBrClF2) evolved from crude oil production, diesel refinery and natural gas transportation. The DNDC-projected negative NEE, i.e. a net uptake of CO2 by the plant–soil ecosystem brings beneficial impacts (negative scores below line) on GWP100, which is sufficient to offset environmental burdens (positive scores above line) and leads to an Imola poplar cultivation system with negative C savings at the farm gate.Fig. 4

Bottom Line: In particular, soil carbon accumulation in perennial biomass plantations is likely to be a significant component in the overall greenhouse gas balance of future biofuel and other biorefinery products and warrants ongoing research and data collection for LCA models.We conclude that bioethanol produced from Imola represents a promising alternative transport fuel offering some savings ranging from 35 to 100 % over petrol in global warming potential, ozone depletion and photochemical oxidation impact categories.Advanced clones of poplar such as Imola for 2G biofuel production in Italy as modelled here show potential to deliver an environmentally sustainable lignocellulosic biorefinery industry and accelerate advanced biofuel penetration in the transport sector.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Chemical Engineering, Imperial College London, London, SW7 2AZ UK ; Department of Life Sciences, Imperial College London, London, SW7 2AZ UK.

ABSTRACT

Background: Environmental issues, e.g. climate change, fossil resource depletion have triggered ambitious national/regional policies to develop biofuel and bioenergy roles within the overall energy portfolio to achieve decarbonising the global economy and increase energy security. With the 10 % binding target for the transport sector, the Renewable Energy Directive confirms the EU's commitment to renewable transport fuels especially advanced biofuels. Imola is an elite poplar clone crossed from Populus deltoides Bartr. and Populus nigra L. by Research Units for Intensive Wood Production, Agriculture Research Council in Italy. This study examines its suitability for plantation cultivation under short or very short rotation coppice regimes as a potential lignocellulosic feedstock for the production of ethanol as a transport biofuel. A life cycle assessment (LCA) approach was used to model the cradle-to-gate environmental profile of Imola-derived biofuel benchmarked against conventional fossil gasoline. Specific attention was given to analysing the agroecosystem fluxes of carbon and nitrogen occurring in the cultivation of the Imola biomass in the biofuel life cycle using a process-oriented biogeochemistry model (DeNitrification-DeComposition) specifically modified for application to 2G perennial bioenergy crops and carbon and nitrogen cycling.

Results: Our results demonstrate that carbon and nitrogen cycling in perennial crop-soil ecosystems such as this example can be expected to have significant effects on the overall environmental profiles of 2G biofuels. In particular, soil carbon accumulation in perennial biomass plantations is likely to be a significant component in the overall greenhouse gas balance of future biofuel and other biorefinery products and warrants ongoing research and data collection for LCA models. We conclude that bioethanol produced from Imola represents a promising alternative transport fuel offering some savings ranging from 35 to 100 % over petrol in global warming potential, ozone depletion and photochemical oxidation impact categories.

Conclusions: Via comparative analyses for Imola-derived bioethanol across potential supply chains, we highlight priority issues for potential improvement in 2G biofuel profiling. Advanced clones of poplar such as Imola for 2G biofuel production in Italy as modelled here show potential to deliver an environmentally sustainable lignocellulosic biorefinery industry and accelerate advanced biofuel penetration in the transport sector.

No MeSH data available.