Review of methodological choices in LCA of biorefinery systems – key issues and recommendations

Based on a review of existing LCA standards and guidelines, this paper provides recommendations on how to handle six key methodological issues when performing LCA studies of biorefinery systems.

Summary

The current trend in biomass conversion technologies is toward more effi cient utilization of biomass feedstock in multiproduct biorefi neries. Many life-cycle assessment (LCA) studies of biorefi nery systems have been performed but differ in how they use the LCA methodology. Based on a review of existing LCA standards and guidelines, this paper provides recommendations on how to handle key methodological issues when performing LCA studies of biorefi nery systems.

Six key issues were identified: (i) goal defi nition, (ii) functional unit, (iii) allocation of biorefi nery outputs, (iv) allocation of biomass feedstock, (v) land use, and (vi) biogenic carbon and timing of emissions. Many of the standards and guidelines reviewed here provide only general methodological recommendations. Some make more specifi c methodological recommendations, but these often differ between standards. In this paper we present some clarifi cations (e.g. examples of research questions and suitable functional units) and methodological recommendations (e.g. on allocation). © 2015 Society of Chemical Industry and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Coworkers: Tomas Ekvall

Keywords: biorefinery, life cycle assessment, functional unit, allocation, land use, biogenic carbon, review

Year: 2015.0

Report number: A2183

Authors: Tomas Ekvall, Ahlgren S, Björklund A, Ekman A, Karlsson H, Berlin J, Börjesson P, Finnveden G, Jansson M, Strid I

Published in: Biofuels, Bioproducts & Biorefining. 9(5), 606-619