Life Cycle Assessment of Novel Biomethane Systems - Energy Performance and Climate Impact
Climate mitigation and supply of renewable energy are global challenges. The main cause of climate change is anthropogenic activities, including consumption of fossil energy sources and land use change. Biomethane, a biomass-derived renewable energy carrier, is interchangeable with fossil-based natural gas and can provide energy services (e.g. heat, electricity and vehicle fuel) and high-value products such as chemicals. However, the availability of feedstock suitable for anaerobic digestion, the limited grid infrastructure in certain regions and problems relating to storage and distribution are barriers to increased deployment of biomethane systems.
This thesis aims to provide decision support for the development and implementation of future biomethane systems, by describing the energy performance and climate impact of some promising novel technologies related to biomethane production, conversion of biomethane to high-value products and biomethane distribution in a life cycle perspective. Anaerobic digestion of maize and pyrolysis of willow for production of biomethane were assessed and compared, while gas-to-liquid (GTL) technologies were studied as potential routes for conversion of biomethane to liquid transportation fuels or platform chemicals. Gas hydrates were assessed as a means of biomethane distribution.
The results showed that transition from maize-based anaerobic digestion to willowbased pyrolysis for biomethane production improved energy performance (higher external energy ratio) and environmental performance (lower climate impact), mainly due to buildup of soil organic carbon and use of biochar as a soil amendment or as an energy source to replace fossil coal. Use of biomethane for production of dimethyl ether as a GTL fuel was competitive relative to the conventional compressed biomethane system regarding energy performance and climate impact. Formation and disassociation of gas hydrates was associated with high energy use, and thus technological development is required to overcome the high primary energy inputs and related high climate impact of gas hydrate distribution.
Doctoral thesis by Elham A. Moghaddam
Faculty of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences Department of Energy and Technology Uppsala