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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Related Topics


Location: Sustainable Biofuels and Co-products Research

2013 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
To evaluate the greenhouse gas (GHG) intensity of fuel oil (bio-oil) and biochar co-products derived from agricultural residues to test its suitability as a substitute for fuel oil through life cycle analysis. Identify and quantify all process inputs (e.g., N, P, K) to replace residue removed from land and collection activities.

1b. Approach (from AD-416):
Construct a base-case scenario that evaluates the full life cycle greenhouse gas emissions converting agricultural feedstock to pyrolysis oil and biochar, construct cost analysis to estimate the cost of mitigating GHG and compare the pyrolysis oil/biochar scenario with the life cycle emissions of fossil fuel. Track material and energy inputs and GHG emissions to air from the feedstock production, collection, transport, fuel conversion, fuel transport and distribution, and use in a hypothetical 100% ethanol (E100) vehicle.

3. Progress Report:
A Life Cycle Analysis model of using Pennsylvania grown corn stover as a feedstock for fast pyrolysis was developed. The life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG), energy, and cost tradeoffs for farm-scale bio-oil production via fast pyrolysis of corn stover feedstock and subsequent utilization for power generation in the state of Pennsylvania were analyzed. We evaluated the life cycle ramifications of either cofiring the bio-char coproduct with coal in existing power plants for energy generation, or using the bio-char as a land amendment within the agricultural sector. The results show GHG emissions of 217 and 84 g CO2e per kWh of bio-oil electricity for coal cofiring and land amendment, respectively. A peer-reviewed journal article “Life Cycle Environmental and Economic Tradeoffs of Using Fast Pyroysis Products for Power Generation” was accepted and published in the journal Energy and Fuels.

4. Accomplishments

Last Modified: 06/21/2017
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