Enhancing the data basis for LCA through process simulation: The case of lignocellulosic ethanol production in Sweden
Poster (konferens), 2011
One of the application areas of LCA is to assess the environmental impact of emerging technologies in order to support strategies and policies for technological development. However, in many cases this is restricted by a lack of robust data caused by the immaturity of these technologies.
A possible solution to this constraint is the use of process simulation, whose mass and energy calculations combined with LCA can be used to support strategic decision making for emerging technologies. For example, process simulation can generate data on the water consumption of a process as well as the level of pollution for the water leaving the process. Combining these data with additional data regarding water availability and quality and integrating both into an LCA can support strategic decisions i.e. the sustainability of industrial infrastructure intending to use the simulated process.
In our study we want to demonstrate the potential of using process simulation for the environmental assessment of emerging technologies, using the example of lignocellulosic ethanol production in Sweden. This is of particular relevance, since lignocellulosic ethanol production is currently not set up in an industrial scale in Sweden and therefore the study can deliver highly valuable information on how this technology could be further pursued and developed by the private and public sector in Sweden. In addition, our study uses the data generated for lignocellulosic ethanol to assess the environmental impact of producing bio-ethanol based polyethylene in Sweden from a local feedstock, which at a later time and under a wider scope could be used to support strategic decisions about where to build plants for the biomass based production of this widely used plastic.
In general, the use of process simulation in this case study is intended to further the use of process simulation for LCA purposes and consequently to make LCA more reliable and open the path to a wider set of application areas.