|Reference : What is the best use of sugar crops? Environmental assessment of two applications : biof...|
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Engineering, computing & technology : Chemical engineering
|What is the best use of sugar crops? Environmental assessment of two applications : biofuels vs. bioproducts|
|Belboom, Sandra [Université de Liège - ULg > Département de chimie appliquée > Génie chimique - Procédés et développement durable >]|
|Léonard, Angélique [Université de Liège - ULg > Département de chimie appliquée > Génie chimique - Procédés et développement durable >]|
|Congrès ACV : un outil au service de la pensée stratégique|
|du 6 au 7 novembre 2012|
|[Avnir] Plateforme pour l'Analyse du Cycle de Vie|
|[en] Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) ; Bioethanol ; Sugar Cane ; Sugar Beet ; Bioethylene|
|[en] Agricultural crops became through years a possibility to increase European energy independence. Brazil has taken this opportunity since the seventies by using sugar cane bioethanol as vehicle fuel. The development of biofuels production is more recent in Europe. Due to temperate climates, bioethanol production is mostly based on wheat and sugar beet, this latter being considered as the ‘equivalent’ sugar crop to sugar cane for Europe.
Biofuel is the most common application of bioethanol but its transformation into bioethylene through a dehydration step can be an alternative as already found in Brazil. This paper will consider both potential uses and compare them using Life Cycle Assessment methodology.
Common boundaries of the systems comprise the cultivation step for both crops, i.e. sugar cane and sugar beet, with all associated energetic and fertilizer consumptions, the transportation step from field to the industrial plant, the sugar crops transformation into hydrate bioethanol and the by-products valorisation. For the biofuel scenario, a dehydration step using molecular sieve is added to get anhydrous bioethanol. For the bioethylene scenario, an industrial dehydration step is added.
Direct comparison between both scenarios is not possible due to different products uses. The comparison was then performed for both scenarios between the bio-based product and its fossil equivalent. ReCiPe 2008 method was used to get the environmental impacts.
As expected, the impact of bio-based products in climate change and fossil fuel depletion categories decreases compared to the fossil counterparts. For other categories, difference is less significant and results are often better for fossil products. Land use change category was implemented to assess its importance. Depending on assumptions, the greenhouse gas emissions from crop implementation on a natural land can counteract the previous mentioned benefits.
This study shows the importance of assumptions, especially in the agricultural field, on the obtained results.
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