Publication Details

Title : Feedstock Carbon Intensity Calculator (FD-CIC) - Users' Manual and Technical Documentation
Publication Date : October 01, 2021
Authors : X. Liu, H. Kwon, M. Wang
Abstract : The carbon intensities (CIs) of biofuels are determined with the life cycle analysis (LCA) technique, which accounts for the energy/material uses and emissions during the complete supply chain of a biofuel including feedstock production and fuel conversion stages.

Regulatory agencies such as California Air Resources Board (CARB) adopts LCA to calculate biofuel CIs. The Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) program developed by CARB allows individual biofuel conversion facilities to submit their own biofuel CIs with their facility input data and incentivizes the reduction in the CI specific to that particular facility compared to a reference fuel’s CI (Liu, Kwon, et al., 2020). Such an incentive program has driven innovations in biorefineries to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by linking the plant's revenue directly to its CI score through LCFS credit trading.

Besides biofuel conversion stage, different farming practices for feedstock growth can result in significant CI variations for feedstocks, thus for biofuels. To provide evidence-based research findings, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E) has supported the Systems Assessment Center of the Energy Systems Division at Argonne National Laboratory to examine CI variations of different farming practices to grow agricultural crops for biofuel production. Meanwhile, the ARPA-E has launched the Systems for Monitoring and Analytics for Renewable Transportation Fuels from Agricultural Resources and Management (SMARTFARM) program to develop technologies and data platforms that enable an accurate measurement of key farming parameters that can help robust accounting of the GHG benefits of sustainable, low-carbon agronomic practices at farm level.

A transparent and easy-to-use tool for feedstock-specific, farm-level CI calculation of feedstocks is especially helpful. With the ARPA-E support, we have developed a tool - the Feedstock Carbon Intensity Calculator (FD-CIC). The first version of FD-CIC was released with the GREET® model in 2020 (Wang et al., 2020) so that corn feedstock producers can use this publicly available tool ( to quantify corn grain CIs with farm-level input data and management practices. In the 2021 version, we expand the tool’s capabilities by including additional feedstocks such as soybeans, sorghum, and rice. Similar to corn, it calculates the farm-level CI for these feedstocks by allowing user-defined farm-level farming inputs and incorporating the GHG emission intensities of these inputs from GREET (in particular, GREET1, the fuel cycle model of GREET).

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