Life Cycle Assessment of Biomass Conversion to Feedstock Chemicals

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


    LCA methodology was applied to the comparative analysis of two processes for producing 1,4-butanediol. The first process is the conventional hydrocarbon feedstock-based approach, utilizing methane to produce formaldehyde, and acetylene with synthesis under conditions of heat and pressure. The second a biomass-based feedstock approach where glucose derived from corn is fermented. When evalautedfrom the standpoint of consumable fuels consumption the conventional process is more environmentally campatible because it relies more on direct energy consumption--combustion of fuels at the point of energy use--which is more efficient than utiliing electricity. However, from a total energy consumption standpoint the alternative process is favored. On an environmental impact basis thealternative process is favored by a significant margin. This fact is due in large part to the utilization of the renewable starting material, corn. The LCI and LCIA can also be utilized to offer other insights. Both systems utilize electricty, but the alternative system more so, by switching from non-renewable to renewable energy sources the environmental impact of the alternative systemrelative to the conventional system could be lowered even more. The alternative system utilizes much more petroleum-derived energy during the raw materials processing stage, a switch from conventional to alternative agriculture would also lower the environmental impact of the system.
    Original languageAmerican English
    PagesVol. 3: 2128-2133
    Number of pages6
    StatePublished - 1996
    EventIECEC 96: 31st Intersociety Energy Conversion Engineering Conference - Washington, D.C.
    Duration: 11 Aug 199616 Aug 1996


    ConferenceIECEC 96: 31st Intersociety Energy Conversion Engineering Conference
    CityWashington, D.C.

    NREL Publication Number

    • NREL/CP-580-25484


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