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ARS Home » Plains Area » Mandan, North Dakota » Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #335945

Research Project: Sustainable Agricultural Systems for the Northern Great Plains

Location: Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory

Title: Life cycle water footprint analysis for rapeseed derived jet fuel in North Dakota

Author
item SHI, RUI - Michigan Technological University
item UKAEW, SUCHADA - Naresuan University
item Archer, David
item LEE, JOON HEE - North Dakota State Water Commission
item PEARLSON, MATTHEW - Volpe, The National Transportation Systems Center
item LEWIS, KRISTIN - US Department Of Transportation
item SHONNARD, DAVID - Michigan Technological University

Submitted to: ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/30/2017
Publication Date: 4/6/2017
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/5681887
Citation: Shi, R., Ukaew, S., Archer, D.W., Lee, J., Pearlson, M., Lewis, K.C., Shonnard, D.R. 2017. Life cycle water footprint analysis for rapeseed derived jet fuel in North Dakota. ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering. 5:3845-3854. doi: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.6b02956.

Interpretive Summary: Rapeseed is a crop that can be used to make renewable jet fuel. However, large-scale biofuel production could affect water supply and quality. Life cycle water footprint was analyzed for rapeseed jet fuel production scenarios in North Dakota. The analysis included different categories of water use. Results showed that 66-68% of the water footprint is the water used in growing rapeseed and comes from rainfall, and only four percent of the footprint is from surface or groundwater sources. The results are important for policy makers and biofuel industry to understand how producing jet fuel from rapeseed might affect water supply and quality across a broad region.

Technical Abstract: Rapeseed is a promising feedstock source for hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids (HEFA) jet fuel production to address energy security and climate change mitigation. However, concerns have been raised about its impact on water as large scale biofuels production may place pressure on fresh water supplies and water quality. Water footprint (WF) analysis, when combined with water-focused life cycle assessment, can be an effective systems analysis tool for water sustainability. This study developed a life cycle water footprint analysis informed by inputs from multiple models for rapeseed HEFA jet production in North Dakota and evaluated the environmental impacts on water utilization and water quality due to large scale HEFA jet production. The biogeochemical based EPIC model was incorporated to simulate crop growth that influences the hydrological cycle. Systematic LCA models were built in SimaPro software to conduct life cycle blue WF analysis. Results using energy allocation indicate that rapeseed derived HEFA jet fuel has a WF of 131 m3 to 143 m3 per GJ fuel over rapeseed price range $470 to $600 per Mg, including all green, blue and grey WF components. Discussions also indicate the importance of incorporating allocation within a life cycle approach when conducting WF analysis of biofuels.