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Bruce Lippke, University of Washington/CORRIM, blippke@uw.edu (Presenter)
Elaine Oneil, University of Washington/CORRIM, eoneil@uw.edu
Maureen Puettmann, Woodlife Environmental Consulting, maureen.puettmann@q.com

 

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 mandates specific renewable energy market penetration targets requiring Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) to demonstrate threshold levels of fossil emission reductions. LCAs for wood product uses compared to non-wood materials have been developed over the last decade providing benchmarks for comparing carbon mitigation impacts. Increased use of biomass provides both the opportunity to reduce carbon emissions as well as to restore energy independence resulting in increased domestic economic activity and jobs and reduced national indebtedness. We use recently developed life cycle data to evaluate carbon emission and energy independence impacts for biofuels from gasification, fermentation, and pyrolysis to replace liquid fossil fuels with comparisons from wood products that substitute for fossil intensive materials. We consider feedstock from forest residuals, thinnings and short rotation crops. We also evaluate the impact of using pellets and increasing the use of waste sources for heat energy, and cogeneration. Since primary surveys of commercial scale biofuel processing operations are not yet possible ASPEN-Plus® process model simulations in conjunction with biomass feedstock collection studies were used to derive the life cycle databases. Life cycle impacts are compared to fossil fuel uses and previously analyzed wood product uses. Potential policy conflicts evident from such comparisons are assessed in order to provide guidance on where best to reduce overall environmental impacts.