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Life cycle assessment of Jatropha biodiesel as transportation fuel in rural India

Listed author(s):
  • Achten, Wouter M.J.
  • Almeida, Joana
  • Fobelets, Vincent
  • Bolle, Evelien
  • Mathijs, Erik
  • Singh, Virendra P.
  • Tewari, Dina N.
  • Verchot, Louis V.
  • Muys, Bart

Since 2003 India has been actively promoting the cultivation of Jatropha on unproductive and degraded lands (wastelands) for the production of biodiesel suitable as transportation fuel. In this paper the life cycle energy balance, global warming potential, acidification potential, eutrophication potential and land use impact on ecosystem quality is evaluated for a small scale, low-input Jatropha biodiesel system established on wasteland in rural India. In addition to the life cycle assessment of the case at hand, the environmental performance of the same system expanded with a biogas installation digesting seed cake was quantified. The environmental impacts were compared to the life cycle impacts of a fossil fuel reference system delivering the same amount of products and functions as the Jatropha biodiesel system under research. The results show that the production and use of Jatropha biodiesel triggers an 82% decrease in non-renewable energy requirement (Net Energy Ratio, NERÂ =Â 1.85) and a 55% reduction in global warming potential (GWP) compared to the reference fossil-fuel based system. However, there is an increase in acidification (49%) and eutrophication (430%) from the Jatropha system relative to the reference case. Although adding biogas production to the system boosts the energy efficiency of the system (NERÂ =Â 3.40), the GWP reduction would not increase (51%) due to additional CH4 emissions. For the land use impact, Jatropha improved the structural ecosystem quality when planted on wasteland, but reduced the functional ecosystem quality. Fertilizer application (mainly N) is an important contributor to most negative impact categories. Optimizing fertilization, agronomic practices and genetics are the major system improvement options.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Applied Energy.

Volume (Year): 87 (2010)
Issue (Month): 12 (December)
Pages: 3652-3660

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Handle: RePEc:eee:appene:v:87:y:2010:i:12:p:3652-3660
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  1. Yu, Suiran & Tao, Jing, 2009. "Economic, energy and environmental evaluations of biomass-based fuel ethanol projects based on life cycle assessment and simulation," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 86(Supplemen), pages 178-188, November.
  2. Cherubini, Francesco & Ulgiati, Sergio, 2010. "Crop residues as raw materials for biorefinery systems - A LCA case study," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 47-57, January.
  3. Papong, Seksan & Chom-In, Tassaneewan & Noksa-nga, Soottiwan & Malakul, Pomthong, 2010. "Life cycle energy efficiency and potentials of biodiesel production from palm oil in Thailand," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 226-233, January.
  4. Agoramoorthy, Govindasamy & Hsu, Minna J. & Chaudhary, Sunita & Shieh, Po-Chuen, 2009. "Can biofuel crops alleviate tribal poverty in India's drylands?," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 86(Supplemen), pages 118-124, November.
  5. Yáñez Angarita, Edgar Eduardo & Silva Lora, Electo Eduardo & da Costa, Rosélis Ester & Torres, Ednildo Andrade, 2009. "The energy balance in the Palm Oil-Derived Methyl Ester (PME) life cycle for the cases in Brazil and Colombia," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 34(12), pages 2905-2913.
  6. Pleanjai, Somporn & Gheewala, Shabbir H., 2009. "Full chain energy analysis of biodiesel production from palm oil in Thailand," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 86(Supplemen), pages 209-214, November.
  7. Leduc, Sylvain & Natarajan, Karthikeyan & Dotzauer, Erik & McCallum, Ian & Obersteiner, Michael, 2009. "Optimizing biodiesel production in India," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 86(Supplemen), pages 125-131, November.
  8. Janulis, P., 2004. "Reduction of energy consumption in biodiesel fuel life cycle," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 861-871.
  9. Yee, Kian Fei & Tan, Kok Tat & Abdullah, Ahmad Zuhairi & Lee, Keat Teong, 2009. "Life cycle assessment of palm biodiesel: Revealing facts and benefits for sustainability," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 86(Supplemen), pages 189-196, November.
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