Comparative Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Construction and Demolition (C&D) Derived Biomass and US Northeast Forest Residuals Gasification for Electricity Production


With the goal to move society toward less reliance on fossil fuels and the mitigation of climate change, there is increasing interest and investment in the bioenergy sector. However, current bioenergy growth patterns may, in the long term, only be met through an expansion of global arable land at the expense of natural ecosystems and in competition with the food sector. Increasing thermal energy recovery from solid waste reduces dependence on fossil- and biobased energy production while enhancing landfill diversion. Using inventory data from pilot processes, this work assesses the cradle-to-gate environmental burdens of plasma gasification as a route capable of transforming construction and demolition (C&D) derived biomass (CDDB) and forest residues into electricity. Results indicate that the environmental burdens associated with CDDB and forest residue gasification may be similar to conventional electricity generation. Land occupation is lowest when CDDB is used. Environmental impacts are to a large extent due to coal cogasified, coke used as gasifier bed material, and fuel oil cocombusted in the steam boiler. However, uncertainties associated with preliminary system designs may be large, particularly the heat loss associated with pilot scale data resulting in overall low efficiencies of energy conversion to electricity; a sensitivity analysis assesses these uncertainties in further detail.

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Environmental Science and Technology


American Chemical Society

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