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Air Quality and Health Impacts of an Aviation Biofuel Supply Chain Using Forest Residue in the Northwestern United States

Ravi, Vikram, Gao, Allan H., Martinkus, Natalie B., Wolcott, Michael P., Lamb, Brian K.
Environmental science & technology 2018 v.52 no.7 pp. 4154-4162
air quality, aviation, biofuels, biomass, biorefining, burning, carbon monoxide, emissions, environmental impact, feedstocks, fuel production, health effects assessments, models, mortality, nitrogen oxides, ozone, particulates, pollutants, slash, summer, supply chain, traffic, winter, Northwestern United States
Forest residue is a major potential feedstock for second-generation biofuel; however, little knowledge exists about the environmental impacts of the development and production of biofuel from such a feedstock. Using a high-resolution regional air quality model, we estimate the air quality impacts of a forest residue based aviation biofuel supply chain scenario in the Pacific Northwestern United States. Using two potential supply chain regions, we find that biomass and biofuel hauling activities will add <1% of vehicle miles traveled to existing traffic, but the biorefineries will add significant local sources of NOₓ and CO. In the biofuel production scenario, the regional average increase in the pollutant concentration is small, but 8-hr maximum summer time O₃ can increase by 1–2 ppb and 24-hr average maximum PM₂.₅ by 2 μg/m³. The alternate scenario of slash pile burning increased the multiday average PM₂.₅ by 2–5 μg/m³ during a winter simulation. Using BenMAP, a health impact assessment tool, we show that avoiding slash pile burning results in a decrease in premature mortality as well as several other nonfatal and minor health effects. In general, we show that most air quality and health benefits result primarily from avoided slash pile burning emissions.