Base chemicals, such as ethylene, are of high importance to our society, e.g. in plastic. However, the fossil feedstocks that these chemicals are currently based upon are of limited availability, and have a considerable environmental impact. Both of which have recently led to research and development projects being focused upon the production of these chemicals from biomass sources.
In our work we assess, through Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), the environmental impact of using biomass-based ethylene for the production of plastics. This includes the evaluation of alternate biomass sources, such as Brazilian sugarcane and Swedish wood, and of different emerging conversion processes such as fermentation and gasifi-cation.
The focus of the investigations is on the identification of key impacting activities. Since the technologies investigated are at an emerging state of development, this allows for e.g. process optimization before an actual industrialscale implementation.
Our findings are, not only of high importance for the future biomass-based production of ethylene and related products, but are also of relevance for other similar base chemicals and their possible biomass-based, industrial-scale production.
Glenn A. Taylor,
Christin Liptow (finished her PhD 2014-05-06)
Stena Metall AB (Göteborg)
Tetra Pak AB (Lund)