Wednesday, May 2, 2007 - 3:30 PM

Life cycle assessment of corn based fuel butanol

May Wu1, Michael Wang1, and Jiahong Liu2. (1) Center for Transportation Research, Argonne National Laboratory, 9700 S. Cass Ave, Argonne, IL 60439, (2) VRI, 34 N Cass Ave., Westmount, IL 60559

Butanol produced from bio-sources such as corn has recently generated interests for use in motor vehicles. Butanol could have attractive properties as a transportation fuel and bio-butanol production through Acetone-Butanol-Ethanol (ABE) fermentation process has been attracting increasing R&D efforts. Advances in new process development for ABE in recent years have led to a drastic increase in ABE productivity and yield which make fuel butanol production worth of evaluation. Consequently, chemical/fuel industries announced a large-scale introduction of the new process to produce butanol from bio-based materials. The purpose of this study is to estimate the potential energy and emission benefits in the life cycle of bio-butanol as a transportation fuel using Well-to-Wheels analysis tool of the GREET model developed at Argonne National Laboratory. In particular, with the ASPEN Plus model, this study describes butanol fermentation from corn incorporating gas stripping for products removal and followed by adsorption for ABE products separation. The ASPEN results of corn-to-butanol production process provide basis for GREET model to estimate life-cycle energy use, GHG emissions, and the six criteria pollutants emissions (CO, VOC, NOx, PM10, PM2.5 and SOx). Results for bio-butanol are then compared with those of conventional gasoline. The bio-butanol option is also analyzed as an alternative to petroleum based butanol. In addition, corn based ethanol and butanol are compared.