Life cycle assessment of electricity generation using fast pyrolysis bio-oil

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Biomass is expected to become an important energy source in U.S. electricity generation under state-lead renewable portfolio standards. This paper investigated the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for energy generated from forest resources through pyrolysis-based processing. The GHG emissions of producing pyrolysis bio-oil (pyrolysis oil) from different forest resources were first investigated; logging residues collected from natural regeneration mixed hardwood stands, hybrid poplar cultivated and harvested from abandoned agricultural lands, short rotation forestry (SRF) willow plantations and waste wood available at the site of the pyrolysis plant. Effects of biomass transportation were investigated through a range of distances to a central pyrolysis facility through road transport by semi-truck. Pyrolysis oil is assumed to be converted to electrical power through co-combustion in conventional fossil fuels power plants, gas turbine combined cycle (GTCC) and diesel generators. Life cycle GHG emissions were compared with power generated using fossil fuels and power generated using biomass direct combustion in a conventional Rankine power plant. Life cycle GHG savings of 77%-99% were estimated for power generation from pyrolysis oil combustion relative to fossil fuels combustion, depending on the biomass feedstock and combustion technologies used. Several scenario analyses were conducted to determine effects of pyrolysis oil transportation distance, N-fertilizer inputs to energy crop plantations, and assumed electricity mixes for pyrolysis oil production. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

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Renewable Energy