A preliminary Life Cycle Assessment of the fractionation process has been carried out based on the currently available data (deliverable D5.1). The main purpose of this study is to quantify the environmental impacts of a GLV-based fractionation process in lignocellulosic biorefineries, producing three main lignocellulosic fractions: cellulose, hemicellulose (with furfural as main product) and lignin. Downstream valorisation routes are not considered at the present stage. Based on the preliminary impact analysis, the aim is to detect potential for improvement in the environmental profile of the fractionation process and bio-based products, identifying process hotspots and their causes.
For this “cradle to gate” study only birch (hardwood lignocellulosic feedstock) has been used as biomass source. In subsequent iterations, the LCA will compare the environmental profile of the different biomass feedstocks selected in the project. The results show that biomass may have a significant impact in the total environmental burdens of the fractionation process. They also show that the biorefinery location may affect the environmental profile depending on the energy mix of the country.
Environmental impacts have been assigned to the three main valorisation routes (cellulose, lignin and furfural) using economic allocation criteria. Although the results are not conclusive due to the number of assumptions and limitations at this point, they provide a good basis to detect the most relevant contributions to the environmental impact categories examined. The results from this preliminary assessment will be updated as new data become available from the research being developed.
For more details: Ana Isabel Díaz, firstname.lastname@example.org, Gaiker
This text is part of FRACTION Newsletter June 2022.