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Environ Sci Technol. 2009 Feb 1;43(3):750-6.

Life-cycle assessment of energy use and greenhouse gas emissions of soybean-derived biodiesel and renewable fuels.

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  • 1Center for Transportation Research, Argonne National Laboratory, 9700 South Cass Avenue, Argonne, Illinois 60549, USA. hhuo@anl.gov


In this study, we used Argonne National Laboratory's Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation (GREET) model to assess the life-cycle energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission impacts of four soybean-derived fuels: biodiesel fuel produced via transesterification, two renewable diesel fuels (I and II) produced from different hydrogenation processes, and renewable gasoline produced from catalytic cracking. Five approaches were employed to allocate the coproducts: a displacement approach; two allocation approaches, one based on the energy value and the other based on the market value; and two hybrid approaches that integrated the displacement and allocation methods. The relative rankings of soybean-based fuels in terms of energy and environmental impacts were different under the different approaches, and the reasons were analyzed. Results from the five allocation approaches showed that although the production and combustion of soybean-based fuels might increase total energy use, they could have significant benefits in reducing fossil energy use (>52%), petroleum use (>88%), and GHG emissions (>57%) relative to petroleum fuels. This study emphasized the importance of the methods used to deal with coproduct issues and provided a comprehensive solution for conducting a life-cycle assessment of fuel pathways with multiple coproducts.

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