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Unformatted text preview: Published: January 25, 2011 r 2011 American Chemical Society 1751 dx.doi.org/10.1021/es103579c | Environ. Sci. Technol. 2011, 45, 1751 1756 FEATURE pubs.acs.org/est Grand Challenges for Life-Cycle Assessment of Biofuels T. E. McKone,* , , , W. W. Nazaro ff , , P. Berck, , M. Au ff hammer, , T. Lipman, , M. S. Torn, , , E. Masanet, , A. Lobscheid, , N. Santero, , U. Mishra, , A. Barrett, , M. Bomberg, , K. Fingerman, , C. Scown, , B. Strogen, , and A. Horvath , University of California, Berkeley, California, United States Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, California, United States Energy Biosciences Institute, Berkeley, California, United States INTRODUCTION To address energy security and climate-change concerns, substitutes are needed for petroleum-based transportation fuels. In addition to electricity and natural gas, biofuels are emerging as an important class of substitutes, today dominated by ethanol that is produced from corn and sugar cane. For the future, many alternative pathways are being explored. Features of these alternatives include diversity in feedstocks, fuel composition, and byproducts. Decision-making tools are needed to support choices among these alternatives. Addressing the world s need for near-term, cost-e ff ective, and reliable production systems for biofuels requires research to overcome technological barriers 1 but must also address social, economic, and environmental challenges in parallel. These challenges include constraints imposed by economics and mar- kets, resource limitations, health risks, climate forcing, nutrient- cycle disruption, water demand, and land use. 2 Responding to these challenges e ff ectively requires a life-cycle perspective. Here we summarize seven grand challenges that must be confronted to enable life-cycle assessment (LCA) to e ff ectively evaluate the environmental footprint of biofuel alternatives. These chal- lenges may be relevant to many LCA e ff orts; our focus here is what we have learned in applying LCA to crop/plant-based biofuels. LCA follows internationally accepted methods (ISO 14040 and ISO 14044) and practices to evaluate requirements and impacts of technologies, processes, and products so as to determine their propensity to consume resources and generate pollution. Life cycle refers to all stages of a process: from raw material extraction through manufacturing, distribution, and use to ultimate disposal, including all intervening transportation steps. Conducting an LCA entails four types of activities: (1) de fi ning the goal and scope of the analysis; (2) collecting life- cycle inventory data on materials and energy ows, emissions, and wastes; (3) conducting a life-cycle impact assessment that characterizes the impacts of constituent processes; and (4) interpretation, which provides an analysis of the major...
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This note was uploaded on 05/08/2011 for the course CE 11 taught by Professor Horvath during the Spring '11 term at University of California, Berkeley.
- Spring '11
- The Land