Publication details

Title Environmental impact assessment of biorefinery products using life cycle analysis
Document Type Article
Year 2014
Source Computer Aided Chemical Engineering, vol.34, p.543-548, 2014
Keywords Biorefinery products; Cumulative energy demand; Global warming potential; Molecular descriptors; Short-cut models
Abstract Sustainable process design has been identified as one of the key research challenges for process systems engineering. In particular, the applicability of sustainability principles can be more advantageous in earlier phases of process design characterized by more degrees of freedom for decision making. One of the rather data intensive methods for promoting environmental sustainability is the systematic procedure of life cycle analysis (LCA, ISO-Norm 14040). Therefore, estimates of LCA based environmental impacts for process assessment at early design stages pose a great challenge. For the production of basic and fine chemicals based on fossil resources, it has been demonstrated (Wernet et al., 2009) that complementary life cycle impact assessment data can be obtained on the basis of molecular structures. This study is a first step to the same direction for the estimation of the environmental impacts of biorefinery products. A database has been compiled for the environmental impacts of biorefinery products under different conditions (22 biorefinery products, 7 types of biomass feedstock, 58 process configurations) and assessed with different LCA based metrics. Short-cut statistical models have been developed to correlate a set of molecular descriptors of the biobased products and minimum process information extracted from the aforementioned database with the LCA based metrics. The resulting models show a satisfactory accuracy in validation terms (e.g., average relative errors of 50%). These models can be a valuable tool in early design phases for screening alternative biorefinery layouts considering their environmental impact. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.
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