Lifecycle assessment of fuel ethanol from sugarcane in Brazil

Posted by pimontm
Contact: 
A. Roberto Ometto (*) Department of Production Engineering, School of Engineering in São Carlos, University of São Paulo Av. Trabalhador São Carlense, 400, City Code 13566-590 São Carlos, SP, Brazil e-mail: aometto@sc.usp.br M. Zwicky Hauschild Technical University of Denmark, Produktionstorvet Building 426, room 107, 2800 Kgs Lyngby, Denmark e-mail: mic@man.dtu.dk W. Nelson Lopes Roma Department of Hydraulics and Sanitation, School of Engineering in São Carlos, University of São Paulo Av. Trabalhador São Carlense, 400, City Code 13566-590 São Carlos, SP, Brazil e-mail: woodrow@sc.usp.br
Type: 
article
Comparative: 
no
Publication year: 
2009
Language: 
English
Code: 
Energy
Code: 
Vehicles/Fuels
Code: 
Food, Plants
Product: 
Sugarcane Ethanol
Quality and sources
Is the study a: 
Quick LCA
Was a critical review performed?: 
No
Is the study compliant with ISO 14044?: 
No
Sponsor type: 
University
Practitioner(s): 
School of Engineering in São Carlos, University of São Paulo
Practitioner(s): 
Technical University of Denmark, Produktionstorvet
Practitioner(s) type: 
University
Summary
Functional unit: 
10,000 km run by a 1,600-cm3 car with fuel hydrated ethanol
Goal and scope of the summary: 
This paper presents the lifecycle assessment (LCA) of fuel ethanol, as 100%of the vehicle fuel, from sugarcane in Brazil. The functional unit is 10,000 km run in an urban area by a car with a 1,600-cm3 engine running on fuel hydrated ethanol, and the resulting reference flow is 1,000 kg of ethanol. The product system includes agricultural and industrial activities, distribution, cogeneration of electricity. and steam, ethanol use during car driving, and industrial by-products recycling to irrigate sugarcane fields.
The results of the fuel ethanol LCI demonstrate that even though alcohol is considered a
renewable fuel because it comes from biomass (sugarcane), it uses a high quantity and diversity of nonrenewable resources over its lifecycle. The input of renewable resources is also high mainly because of the water consumption in the industrial phases, due to the sugarcane washing process.
The fuel ethanol lifecycle contributes negatively to all the impact potentials analyzed: global warming,
ozone formation, acidification, nutrient enrichment, ecotoxicity, and human toxicity. Concerning energy consumption, it consumes less energy than its own production largely because of the electricity cogeneration system, but this process is highly dependent on water. The main causes for the biggest impact potential indicated by the normalization is the nutrient application, the burning in harvesting and the use of diesel fuel.
Material impact(s): 
Acidification
Water consumption
Toxicity / Eco-toxicity
Raw material impact level: 
Medium
Manufacturing impact(s): 
Acidification
Water consumption
Global warming
Toxicity / Eco-toxicity
Manufacturing impact level: 
Medium
Usage impact(s): 
Acidification
Global warming
Toxicity / Eco-toxicity
Usage impact level: 
High


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