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Life-cycle analysis of greenhouse gas emissions from renewable jet fuel production

de Jong, Sierk, Antonissen, Kay, Hoefnagels, Ric, Lonza, Laura, Wang, Michael, Faaij, André, Junginger, Martin
Biotechnology for biofuels 2017 v.10 no.1 pp. 64
Corsia, aviation, carbon, carbon markets, carbon sequestration, co-product allocation, coproducts, corn, electricity, energy, feedstocks, fossils, fuel production, fuels, greenhouse gas emissions, hydrogen, liquefaction
BACKGROUND: The introduction of renewable jet fuel (RJF) is considered an important emission mitigation measure for the aviation industry. This study compares the well-to-wake (WtWa) greenhouse gas (GHG) emission performance of multiple RJF conversion pathways and explores the impact of different co-product allocation methods. The insights obtained in this study are of particular importance if RJF is included as an emission mitigation instrument in the global Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). RESULTS: Fischer–Tropsch pathways yield the highest GHG emission reduction compared to fossil jet fuel (86–104%) of the pathways in scope, followed by Hydrothermal Liquefaction (77–80%) and sugarcane- (71–75%) and corn stover-based Alcohol-to-Jet (60–75%). Feedstock cultivation, hydrogen and conversion inputs were shown to be major contributors to the overall WtWa GHG emission performance. The choice of allocation method mainly affects pathways yielding high shares of co-products or producing co-products which effectively displace carbon intensive products (e.g., electricity). CONCLUSIONS: Renewable jet fuel can contribute to significant reduction of aviation-related GHG emissions, provided the right feedstock and conversion technology are used. The GHG emission performance of RJF may be further improved by using sustainable hydrogen sources or applying carbon capture and storage. Based on the character and impact of different co-product allocation methods, we recommend using energy and economic allocation (for non-energy co-products) at a global level, as it leverages the universal character of energy allocation while adequately valuing non-energy co-products.