Full Chain Life Cycle Assessment of Greenhouse Gases and Energy Demand for Canola-Derived Jet Fuel in North Dakota, United States

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© 2016 American Chemical Society. The success of long-term sustainable biofuel production on agricultural lands is still questionable. To this end, we investigated the effects of crop prices on the changes of agricultural land use for biofuel canola production in three wheat crop management zones in North Dakota. The effects of canola hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids (HEFA) production on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and energy demand were investigated along with different allocation methods. The Environmental Policy Integrated Climate (EPIC) and Alternative Fuel Transportation Optimization Tool (AFTOT) models were used to simulate the life cycle assessment (LCA) inputs for two key stages of the HEFA pathway: cultivation and transportation. From the EPIC model results, the increase in canola price had a significant impact on predicted farmer decisions to displace food crops with energy crops and particularly on resulting changes in soil carbon (C). The LCA results suggested that to increase soil C sequestration, energy canola should be grown in the place of the fallow whenever possible to guarantee the long-term soil C sustainability of canola HEFA. Other possible ways to mitigate the GHG emissions included using anhydrous ammonia as the nitrogen fertilizer for cultivation and H2 integration (use of HEFA coproducts in H2 production) for HEFA conversion.

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ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering