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Biotechnol Biofuels. 2016 Aug 11;9:170. doi: 10.1186/s13068-016-0582-2. eCollection 2016.

Hydrocarbon bio-jet fuel from bioconversion of poplar biomass: life cycle assessment.

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1
School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of Washington, Box 352100, Seattle, WA 98195-2100 USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Bio-jet fuels compatible with current aviation infrastructure are needed as an alternative to petroleum-based jet fuel to lower greenhouse gas emissions and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Cradle to grave life cycle analysis is used to investigate the global warming potential and fossil fuel use of converting poplar biomass to drop-in bio-jet fuel via a novel bioconversion platform. Unique to the biorefinery designs in this research is an acetogen fermentation step. Following dilute acid pretreatment and enzymatic hydrolysis, poplar biomass is fermented to acetic acid and then distilled, hydroprocessed, and oligomerized to jet fuel. Natural gas steam reforming and lignin gasification are proposed to meet hydrogen demands at the biorefineries. Separate well to wake simulations are performed using the hydrogen production processes to obtain life cycle data. Both biorefinery designs are assessed using natural gas and hog fuel to meet excess heat demands.

RESULTS:

Global warming potential of the natural gas steam reforming and lignin gasification bio-jet fuel scenarios range from CO2 equivalences of 60 to 66 and 32 to 73 g MJ(-1), respectively. Fossil fuel usage of the natural gas steam reforming and lignin gasification bio-jet fuel scenarios range from 0.78 to 0.84 and 0.71 to 1.0 MJ MJ(-1), respectively. Lower values for each impact category result from using hog fuel to meet excess heat/steam demands. Higher values result from using natural gas to meet the excess heat demands.

CONCLUSION:

Bio-jet fuels produced from the bioconversion of poplar biomass reduce the global warming potential and fossil fuel use compared with petroleum-based jet fuel. Production of hydrogen is identified as a major source of greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel use in both the natural gas steam reforming and lignin gasification bio-jet simulations. Using hog fuel instead of natural gas to meet heat demands can help lower the global warming potential and fossil fuel use at the biorefineries.

KEYWORDS:

Acetogen; Bio-jet fuel; Bioconversion; Biofuel; Biorefinery; Life cycle assessment

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