Banner for LabNotes
From Lab Notes
Contact Information
Forest Products Laboratory
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726-2398
Phone: (608) 231-9200
Fax: (608) 231-9592
Email

 

You are here: FPL Home  / Information Products & Services  / Publications

Requested Product

Title: Cradle-to-grave life cycle assessment of syngas electricity from woody biomass residues

Source: Wood and Fiber Science. 49(2), 2017: 177-192.

Author(s)Gu, Hongmei; Bergman, Richard

Publication Year: 2017  View PDF »

Category: Journal Articles
Associated Research Project(s):   FPL-4851-7B

Abstract: Forest restoration and fire suppression activities in the western United States have resulted in large volumes of low-to-no value residues. An environmental assessment would enable greater use while maintaining environmental sustainability of these residues for energy products. One internationally accepted sustainable metric tool that can assess environmental impacts of new bioenergy conversion systems is the life cycle assessment (LCA). Using the LCA method, this study evaluated the synthesis gas (syngas) electricity produced via a distributed-scale biomass thermochemical conversion system called the Tucker renewable natural gas (RNG) system. This system converts woody biomass in a high-temperature and extremely low-oxygen environment to a medium-energy syngas that is burned to generate electricity. The system also produced biochar as a byproduct and tar as a waste. Results from the life cycle impact assessment included an estimate of the global warming (GW) from the cradle-to-grave production of syngas for electricity. When the carbon sequestration effect from the biochar by-product was included, GW impact value (0.330 kg CO2-eq/kWh) was notably lower compared with electricity generated from bituminous coal (1.079 kg CO2-eq/kWh) and conventional natural gas (0.720 kg CO2-eq/kWh). Other environmental impacts showed that syngas electricity ranged between the direct-biomass-burned electricity and fossil-fuel-combusted electricity for different impact categories. This occurred because, although the woody biomass feedstock was from a renewable resource with less environmental impact, propane was consumed during the thermochemical conversion. Specifically, the evaluation showed that the highest greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions contribution came from burning propane that was used to maintain the endothermic reaction in the Tucker RNG unit. If the tar waste from the system were converted into a low-energy syngas and used to supplement propane consumption, a further decrease of 41% in GHG emissions (ie fossil CO2) could be achieved in this cradle-to-grave assessment.

Keywords: Bioenergy; woody biomass; syngas electricity; life cycle analysis; environmental assessment

Publication Review Process: Formally Refereed

File size: 1,024 kb(s)

Date posted: 09/12/2017

This publication is also viewable on Treesearch:  view
RITS Product ID: 86654
Current FPL Scientists associated with this product (listed alphabetically)
Bergman, Richard
Research Forest Products Technologist
Gu, Hongmei
Forest Products Technologist
 

Additional items that might interest you
View the video celebrating FPL's 100 years of public service in 2010, from the producers of the Greatest Good....view

Research Highlights from FPL....view

Termite Eradication: A search for the Holy Grail.... view

Moisture Management in Residential Construction Series videos...view

Wood Floor Systems in Residential Construction Series videos....view
- FPL's Mission and Strategic Plan -

FPL's mission is to identify and conduct innovative wood and fiber utilization research that contributes to conservation and productivity of the forest resource, thereby sustaining forests, the economy, and quality of life. ... ..more »

- FPL Research Emphasis Areas -
Advanced Composites

As an integral part of the FPL mission, we improve the long-term sustainability of our Nation's forests by creating valuable composite products from biobased materials ... ..more »


Advanced Structures

The FPL has been in the forefront of wood-frame housing research since 1910 and has long been recognized as a world leader in such housing-related areas as engineered wood ... ..more »


Forest Biorefinery

We all know the compelling reasons that the United States needs to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. Historically, the greatest increases in energy demand have been for transportation fuels ... ..more »


Nanotechnology

A leader in wood products research for over a century, the FPL is positioning itself to become the lead Federal research facility for the application of nanotechnology in forest products ... more »


Woody Biomass Utilization

Forests in the United States contain a substantial amount of small-diameter, overstocked, and underutilized material.FPL research projects are exploring the potential of the small-diameter ... ..more »