Biofuels Impacts

1 November 2020

Biofuels Impacts: Economic & Environmental Analysis of Biomass-Based Fuels

RDC Environment evaluated the economic, environmental and social impacts of different types of advanced biofuels.

Impact Bio Fuels

The Social Impact of Biofuels 

Demand for advanced or second generation biofuels, which are mainly based on biomass residues, is growing. However, some residues already hplay a role in economy.

As a result, OVAM (Public Waste Management Agency of Flanders) wanted to be able to take a stance on the relevance for society to use biomass residues for biofuels.

OVAM therefore commissioned RDC Environment to examine the suitability of using residual biomass streams for biofuels, based on a life-cycle analysis and a socio-economic analysis.

A Methodological Development 

An appropriate evaluation framework was first developed: the relevant indicators for evaluating environmental impacts were determined, as well as the methodology for assigning weighting to each indicator and taking into account other societal impacts.

Cost-Benefit Analysis of Biofuels

The evaluation framework was then applied to 4 waste streams as case studies:

  1. corn residues (stalks, husks);
  2. logging residues;
  3. the woody fraction of green waste;
  4. post-consumer wood waste (A-wood).

The 3 biofuel production processes that have been studied are:

  • Pre-treatment of biomass followed by fermentation into alcohol (ethanol), a process that is typical to crop residues;
  • Biomass gasification followed by synthesis into liquid or gaseous fuel (Fischer-Tropsch diesel, methanol, methane), or fermentation of the synthesis gas (into ethanol); a process that is typical to fairly pure wood fractions;
  • Biomass liquefaction (flash pyrolysis, thermo-catalytic reforming) followed by further refining to improve fuel quality, which can be done by co-processing in existing oil refineries.

For More Information

Read the Methodological Report: here

Read the Report: here