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Life cycle assessment integrated with thermodynamic analysis of bio-fuel options for solid oxide fuel cells

Lin, Jiefeng, Babbitt, Callie W., Trabold, Thomas A.
Bioresource technology 2013 v.128 pp. 495-504
biodiesel, biomass, cooking fats and oils, corn stover, electric power, electricity, energy, environmental impact, ethanol, feedstocks, fuel cells, greenhouse gas emissions, hydrogen, life cycle assessment, municipal solid waste, natural gas, oxides, trucks, New York
A methodology that integrates life cycle assessment (LCA) with thermodynamic analysis is developed and applied to evaluate the environmental impacts of producing biofuels from waste biomass, including biodiesel from waste cooking oil, ethanol from corn stover, and compressed natural gas from municipal solid wastes. Solid oxide fuel cell-based auxiliary power units using bio-fuel as the hydrogen precursor enable generation of auxiliary electricity for idling heavy-duty trucks. Thermodynamic analysis is applied to evaluate the fuel conversion efficiency and determine the amount of fuel feedstock needed to generate a unit of electrical power. These inputs feed into an LCA that compares energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of different fuel pathways. Results show that compressed natural gas from municipal solid wastes is an optimal bio-fuel option for SOFC-APU applications in New York State. However, this methodology can be regionalized within the U.S. or internationally to account for different fuel feedstock options.