Production of Hydrocarbon Fuel Using Two-Step Torrefaction and Fast Pyrolysis of Pine. Part 2: Life-Cycle Carbon Footprint

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© 2017 American Chemical Society. This study, as part II of two companion papers, investigated the environmental performance of liquid hydrocarbon biofuel production via fast pyrolysis of pine through two pathways: a one-step pathway via fast pyrolysis only, and a two-step pathway that includes a torrefaction step prior to fast pyrolysis. Fast pyrolysis in all cases took place at a temperature of 530 °C whereas for the two-step pathways, torrefaction was investigated at temperatures of 290, 310, and 330 °C. Bio-oil produced was then catalytically upgraded to hydrocarbon biofuel. Different scenarios for providing the required process heat either by using fossil energy or renewable energy, as well as the effect of heat integration, were also investigated. Our life cycle analysis indicated that using the energy allocation approach, a two-step heat integrated pathway with torrefaction taking place at 330 °C had the lowest global warming potential among all scenarios of about 29.0 g CO2 equiv/MJ biofuel. Using the system expansion approach, significantly higher reductions in GHG emissions of about 56 to 265% relative to conventional gasoline were observed for the heat integrated processes. More modest percentage reduction in emissions of about 34 to 67% was observed across all scenarios using the energy allocation approach.

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ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering