Publication Details

Title : Supply chain sustainability analysis of renewable hydrocarbon fuels via indirect liquefaction, ex situ catalytic fast pyrolysis, hydrothermal liquefaction, and biochemical conversion: update of the 2018 state-of-technology cases and design cases
Publication Date : December 31, 2018
Authors : H. Cai, T. Benavides, U. Lee, M. Wang, E. Tan, R. Davis, A. Dutta, M. Biddy, J. Clippinger, N. Grundl, L. Tao, D. Hartley, M. Roni, D. Thompson, L. Snowden-Swan, Y. Zhu, S. Jones
Abstract : The Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) aims to develop and deploy technologies to transform renewable biomass resources into commercially viable, high-performance biofuels, bioproducts and biopower through public and private partnerships (U.S. Department of Energy 2016). BETO and its national laboratory teams conduct in-depth techno-economic assessments (TEA) of biomass feedstock supply and logistics and conversion technologies to produce biofuels. There are two general types of TEAs: A design case is a TEA that outlines a target case (future projection) for a particular biofuel pathway. It enables identification of data gaps and research and development needs, and provides goals and benchmarks against which technology progress is assessed. A state of technology (SOT) analysis assesses progress within and across relevant technology areas based on actual results at current experimental scales, relative to technical targets and cost goals from design cases, and includes technical, economic, and environmental criteria as available.

In addition to developing a TEA for a pathway of interest, BETO also performs a supply chain sustainability analysis (SCSA). The SCSA takes the life-cycle analysis approach that BETO has been supporting for more than 19 years. It enables BETO to identify energy consumption, environmental, and sustainability issues that may be associated with biofuel production. Approaches to mitigate these issues can then be developed. Additionally, the SCSA allows for comparison of energy and environmental impacts across biofuel pathways in BETO’s research and development portfolio.

This technical report describes the SCSAs for the production of renewable hydrocarbon transportation fuels via a range of conversion technologies: (1) renewable high octane gasoline (HOG) via indirect liquefaction (IDL) of woody lignocellulosic biomass (note that the IDL pathway in this SCSA represents the syngas conversion design in the 2018 SOT and 2022 design cases [Tan et al., 2018]); (2) renewable gasoline (RG) and diesel (RD) blendstocks via ex situ catalytic fast pyrolysis of woody lignocellulosic biomass; (3) RD via hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) of wet sludge from a wastewater treatment plant; (4) renewable hydrocarbon fuels via biochemical conversion of herbaceous lignocellulosic biomass; (5) renewable diesel via HTL of a blend of algae and woody biomass; and (6) renewable diesel via combined algae processing (CAP). This technical report focuses on the environmental performance of these six biofuel production pathways in their 2018 SOT cases, as well as in their design cases (future target projections). The results of these renewable hydrocarbon fuel pathways in these SCSA analyses update those for the respective 2015 and 2016 SOT cases (Edward Frank et al. 2016; Hao Cai et al. 2016, 2017; Cai et al. 2018) in the case of IDL, algae CAP, and biochemical conversion pathways. They also provide an opportunity to examine the impact of technology improvements in both biomass feedstock production and biofuel production that have been achieved in 2018 SOTs on the sustainability performance of these renewable transportation fuels, and they reflect updates to Argonne National Laboratory’s Greenhouse gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in Transportation (GREET®) model, which was released in October 2018 (Wang et al. 2018). These GREET updates include production of natural gas, electricity, and petroleum-based fuels that can influence biofuels’ supply chain greenhouse gas (GHG) (CO2, CH4, and N2O) emissions, water consumption and air pollutant emissions. GHG emissions, water consumption, and nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions are the main sustainability metrics assessed in this analysis. In this analysis, we define water consumption as the amount of water withdrawn from a freshwater source that is not returned (or returnable) to a freshwater source at the same level of quality. Life-cycle fossil energy consumption and net energy balance, which is the life-cycle fossil energy consumption deducted from the renewable biofuel energy produced, are also assessed.

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