Life Cycle Analysis of Conventional and Emerging Transportation Fuels and Chemicals

Organizers: Jennifer B. Dunn, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, USA; David T. Allen, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, USA

As new feedstocks and processes for conversion to liquid fuels emerge and evolve, the research community needs to be aware of them and life cycle analysis (LCA) techniques that evaluate their environmental effects relative to baseline petroleum fuels. This session will present new research in this area, covering developments in LCA methodology applied to emerging and existing transportation fuels and research results and conclusions that are research-and-development-guiding.

Two prominent examples of emerging and evolving fossil-fuel-based routes to transportation fuels are the conversion of natural gas liquids, which are co-produced along with shale gas, to transportation fuels and approaches to carbon capture and utilization-based production of liquid transportation fuels. In the first case, key LCA issues that the session could address are the upstream emissions associated with shale gas extraction which have been newly evaluated as well as examining processes that can convert natural gas liquids to transportation fuels. In the second case, LCA issues range from treatment of the waste gaseous carbon stream as either burden-free or burdened with a portion of upstream emissions, treatment of the system boundary for the carbon-capture-based system and a reference system. Indeed the reference system against which these emerging and developing technologies should be compared shifts with characterization of petroleum produced from fields world-wide, how these petroleum sources are incorporated into refineries including shares from different sources, and with the influence of regulation.

Transportation fuel LCA remains a critical topic as the production and use of transportation fuels are a significant contributor to energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. This session will enable attendees of the Green Chemistry and Engineering conference to stay abreast of the latest research techniques and conclusions.