Life Cycle Assessment of Wood Hemicellulosic Bio-Ethanol
University of Maine Anthony Halog**,
University of Maine
A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a commonly accepted technique for determining the environmental sustainability of a product or process. The goal of this research is to complete a cradle to gate LCA of wood based hemicellulosic bio-ethanol from a modified Kraft mill that produces pulp and paper using Eco-LCA, Open LCA, and commercial SimaPro software. The system boundary of this study may change depending on data availability. An LCA of wood based bio-ethanol has already been achieved using SimaPro, but such LCA technique only accounts for emissions and non-renewable resources. Other LCA programs consider land usage in their evaluation, and end-point impact assessments also exist that incorporate multiple factors. Eco-LCA and Open LCA are newly developed models that offer a more complete approach to LCA. Eco-LCA, a free LCA model available to the public, considers ecosystem goods and services, referred to as natural capital, which accounts for the environmental impact of a process on natural goods and services such as water, soil, wood, and grass. Eco-LCA uses an input-output model to assess a system, resulting in a more comprehensive outlook that requires only simple resource input data, rather than specific information about the emissions from individual processes. SimaPro requires setting a boundary for the types of factors that will be included in the LCA and specific emissions data from each individual process, therefore potentially yielding different results than the Eco-LCA evaluation. The results of Eco-LCA and Open LCA will be compared to the results of SimaPro LCA, particularly in green house gas emissions and net energy consumption. The discrepancies between the three models will be reported to determine the model that reflects better representation of the environmental impacts of bio-ethanol.