Renewable Energy Biomass Fuels

Life-cycle assessment of corn-based butanol as a potential transportation fuel.

Authors: Wu, M. Wang, M. Liu, J. Huo, H. Energy Systems
 
Abstract: Butanol produced from bio-sources (such as corn) could have attractive properties as a transportation fuel. Production of butanol through a fermentation process called acetone-butanol-ethanol (ABE) has been the focus of increasing research and development efforts. Advances in ABE process development in recent years have led to drastic increases in ABE productivity and yields, making butanol production worthy of evaluation for use in motor vehicles. Consequently, chemical/fuel industries have announced their intention to produce butanol from bio-based materials. The purpose of this study is to estimate the potential life-cycle energy and emission effects associated with using bio-butanol as a transportation fuel. The study employs a well-to-wheels analysis tool--the Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions and Energy Use in Transportation (GREET) model developed at Argonne National Laboratory--and the Aspen Plus® model developed by AspenTech. The study describes the butanol production from corn, including grain processing, fermentation, gas stripping, distillation, and adsorption for products separation. The Aspen® results that we obtained for the corn-to-butanol production process provide the basis for GREET modeling to estimate life-cycle energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. The GREET model was expanded to simulate the bio-butanol life cycle, from agricultural chemical production to butanol use in motor vehicles. We then compared the results for bio-butanol with those of conventional gasoline. We also analyzed the bio-acetone that is coproduced with bio-butanol as an alternative to petroleum-based acetone. Our study shows that, while the use of corn-based butanol achieves energy benefits and reduces greenhouse gas emissions, the results are affected by the methods used to treat the acetone that is co-produced in butanol plants.
Publication Date: 31 Dec 2007
Report numbers: ANL/ESD/07-10
DOE Contract number: DE-AC02-06CH11357
Resource Type: Technical Report
Research Organizations: Argonne National Laboratory (ANL)
Sponsoring Organizations: EE
Country of Publication: United States
Language: English
Keywords relating to this report:
ACETONE
ADSORPTION
BUTANOLS
DISTILLATION
EVALUATION
FERMENTATION
GASOLINE
GREENHOUSE GASES
LIFE CYCLE
PROCESSING
PRODUCTION
PRODUCTIVITY
SIMULATION
VEHICLES

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