Title: Environmental impacts of industrial ethanol production in Brazil: a life cycle analysis assessment with research data inventory

Authors: Flavio Numata Junior

Addresses: Department of Mechanical Engineering, Universidade Positivo, R. Dep. Heitor Alencar Furtado, 5000, 81280-340, Curitiba-PR, Brasil

Abstract: Biofuels are a rich source of energy for the world. First-generation (1G) ethanol has been used for decades, and the potential of second-generation (2G) lignocellulosic ethanol has already been recognised. Now, the productivity of third-generation (3G) ethanol derived from algae is predicted to be ten times higher than current levels. This study aims to measure how future generations of ethanol will impact industrial processes in Brazil up to the year 2050. It analyses the industrialisation of 1G, 2G, and 3G ethanol and uses the life cycle assessment (LCA). The results of this study show that the industrialisation of ethanol generates acidification, primarily when fermentation produces sulphuric acid in the integrated system of 1G and 2G. Even greater discharges are observed in 3G during an esterification process generated by the glycerine. A general assessment of the landscape indicates that processes adopting thermochemical technological routes have more positive contribution.

Keywords: environmental impacts; life-cycle assessment; industrial processes; ethanol.

DOI: 10.1504/IJGENVI.2019.110401

International Journal of Global Environmental Issues, 2019 Vol.18 No.4, pp.271 - 282

Accepted: 08 Jul 2019
Published online: 06 Oct 2020 *

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