Maximizing environmental impact savings potential through innovative biorefinery alternatives: An application of the TM-LCA framework for regional scale impact assessment

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  • Giovanna Croxatto Vega
  • Joshua Sohn
  • Bruun, Sander
  • Stig Irving Olsen
  • Morten Birkved

In order to compare the maximum potential environmental impact savings that may result from the implementation of innovative biorefinery alternatives at a regional scale, the Territorial Metabolism-Life Cycle Assessment (TM-LCA) framework is implemented. With the goal of examining environmental impacts arising from technology-to-region (territory) compatibility, the framework is applied to two biorefinery alternatives, treating a mixture of cow manure and grape marc. The biorefineries produce either biogas alone or biogas and polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), a naturally occurring polymer. The production of PHA substitutes either polyethylene terephthalate (PET) or biosourced polylactide (PLA) production. The assessment is performed for two regions, one in Southern France and the other in Oregon, USA. Changing energy systems are taken into account via multiple dynamic energy provision scenarios. Territorial scale impacts are quantified using both LCA midpoint impact categories and single score indicators derived through multi-criteria decision assessment (MCDA). It is determined that in all probable future scenarios, a biorefinery with PHA-biogas co-production is preferable to a biorefinery only producing biogas. The TM-LCA framework facilitates the capture of technology and regionally specific impacts, such as impacts caused by local energy provision and potential impacts due to limitations in the availability of the defined feedstock leading to additional transport.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3836
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number14
Pages (from-to)1-22
Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Research areas

  • Agricultural residues, Biogas, Bioplastic, Biorefinery, Life cycle assessment, Multi-criteria decision assessment, Polyhydroxyalkanoates, Territorial metabolism

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