Environmental economics of lignin derived transport fuels

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This paper explores the environmental and economic aspects of fast pyrolytic conversion of lignin, obtained from 2G ethanol plants, to transport fuels for both the marine and automotive markets. Various scenarios are explored, pertaining to aggregation of lignin from several sites, alternative energy carries to replace lignin, transport modalities, and allocation methodology. The results highlight two critical factors that ultimately determine the economic and/or environmental fuel viability. The first factor, the logistics scheme, exhibited the disadvantage of the centralized approach, owing to prohibitively expensive transportation costs of the low energy-dense lignin. Life cycle analysis (LCA) displayed the second critical factor related to alternative energy carrier selection. Natural gas (NG) chosen over additional biomass boosts well-to-wheel greenhouse gas emissions (WTW GHG) to a level incompatible with the reduction targets set by the U.S. renewable fuel standard (RFS). Adversely, the process’ economics revealed higher profits vs. fossil energy carrier.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)589-599
Number of pages11
JournalBioresource Technology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017


  • 2G ethanol plants
  • Fuels
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Lignin
  • Ethanol
  • Greenhouse Effect
  • Environment
  • Biomass
  • Biofuels
  • Natural Gas


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