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Title: Life Cycle Assessment of Switchgrass Cellulosic Ethanol Production in the Wisconsin and Michigan Agricultural Contexts

Spatial variability in yields and greenhouse gas emissions from soils has been identified as a key source of variability in life cycle assessments (LCAs) of agricultural products such as cellulosic ethanol. This study aims to conduct an LCA of cellulosic ethanol production from switchgrass in a way that captures this spatial variability and tests results for sensitivity to using spatially averaged results. The Environment Policy Integrated Climate (EPIC) model was used to calculate switchgrass yields, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and nitrogen and phosphorus emissions from crop production in southern Wisconsin and Michigan at the watershed scale. These data were combined with cellulosic ethanol production data via ammonia fiber expansion and dilute acid pretreatment methods and region-specific electricity production data into an LCA model of eight ethanol production scenarios. Standard deviations from the spatial mean yields and soil emissions were used to test the sensitivity of net energy ratio, global warming potential intensity, and eutrophication and acidification potential metrics to spatial variability. Substantial variation in the eutrophication potential was also observed when nitrogen and phosphorus emissions from soils were varied. This work illustrates the need for spatially explicit agricultural production data in the LCA of biofuels and other agricultural products.
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Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 1939-1234; KP1601050
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: BioEnergy Research; Journal Volume: 8; Journal Issue: 3
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
Panicum virgatum L; Greenhouse gas emissions; Soil carbon; Nitrous oxide; Environmental Policy Integrated Climate (EPIC); Net energy ratio; Acidification; Eutrophication