Liquid fuels such as gasoline and diesel are expected to continue to play an important role in the future energy system. In order to mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions associated with these fuels (typically produced in crude oil refineries), significant efforts are being made for their production from biomass feedstock not competing with the food sector. Thus, the evolution from conventional crude oil refineries to fully biomass-based refineries producing biofuels and other bioproducts is pursued. As an intermediary stage within this transition towards a fully bio-based refinery, the partial use of biomass in conventional crude oil refineries is often contemplated. In this article* authored by the Systems Analysis Unit of IMDEA Energy, the environmental suitability of such an intermediary strategy is evaluated from a life-cycle perspective. When compared to a conventional refinery, the strategy of biomass integration shows advantages in terms of carbon footprint, but with drawbacks under other environmental impact indicators. Hence, the suitability of this type of strategies requires a thorough decision-making process.
(*) Pedro L Cruz, Diego Iribarren, Javier Dufour (2020): Modeling, simulation and life-cycle assessment of the use of bio-oil and char in conventional refineries, In Biofuels, Bioproducts & Biorefining 14 (1): 30-42. https://doi.org/10.1002/bbb.2003
More information: Diego Iribarren, Senior Researcher of the System Analysis Unit firstname.lastname@example.org