Send to

Choose Destination
Bioresour Technol. 2010 Jan;101(1):414-21. doi: 10.1016/j.biortech.2009.07.077. Epub 2009 Aug 21.

A comparison of pipeline versus truck transport of bio-oil.

Author information

Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T 6G 2G8.


Biomass-based energy and fuels are receiving attention because they are considered carbon neutral; i.e. the amount of CO(2) released during combustion of this biomass is nearly the same as that taken up by the plants during their growth. Bio-oil is a dark viscous liquid consisting of hydrocarbons. These are produced by fast pyrolysis of biomass. "As-is" biomass material has a low energy density (MJ m(-3)), hence, the cost of transporting this energy is high. Bio-oil has a high energy density as compared to "as-is" biomass material, consequently it helps in reducing the cost of energy transport. This study compares the life cycle assessment of transportation of bio-oil by pipeline with that by truck. The scope of the work includes the transportation of bio-oil by truck or pipeline from a centralized plant (supplied with forest biomass) to an end-user. Two cases are studied for pipeline transport of bio-oil: the first case considers a coal-based electricity supply for pumping the bio-oil through a pipeline; the second case considers an electricity supply from a renewable resource. The two cases of pipeline transport are compared to two cases of truck transport (truck trailer and super B-train truck). The life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the pipeline transport of bio-oil for the two cases of electricity supply are 345 and 17 g of CO(2) m(-3) km(-1), respectively. Similar values for transport by trailer (capacity - 30 m(3)) and super B-train truck (capacity - 60 m(3)) are 89 and 60 g of CO(2) m(-3) km(-1), respectively. Energy input for bio-oil transport is 3.95 MJ m(-3) km(-1) by pipeline, 2.59 MJ m(-3) km(-1) by truck and 1.66 MJ m(-3) km(-1) by super B-train truck. The results show that GHG emissions in pipeline transport are largely dependent on the source of electricity (higher for coal-based electricity). Substituting 250 m(3) day(-1) of pipeline-transported bio-oil for coal-based electricity can mitigate about 5.1 million tonnes of CO(2) per year. Overall, this study gives a comprehensive life cycle assessment of bio-oil transport comparing pipeline and truck transport.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center