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Journal Articles (Review Article) Applied Energy Year : 2015

Recommendations for Life Cycle Assessment of algal fuels


Many studies have used the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology to assess the environmental impacts and energetic suitability of microalgal biofuels. This paper presents a critical review focused on goal and scope, system boundaries, functional unit, Life Cycle Inventories (LCI) and environmental impacts of 41 LCA of algal biofuels. The comparison between these LCA has been made difficult by the heterogeneity of their underlying hypotheses and perimeters. Hence we propose to define methodological guidelines to harmonize results presentation in order to improve the validity of each new contribution and to ease its comparison to other studies. LCA allows detecting pollution transfers between production stages as well as between distinct environmental impacts. At the Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) level, a special attention should be paid to the perimeter of the study (e.g. inclusion of infrastructures) and to the handling of the co-products (allocation or substitution). Moreover the inventory data have to be treated in a consistent way in order to guarantee the comparability of LCI between different studies. Hence we recommend that data of all the production steps should be given at a unit process level, i.e. the smallest element for which input and output data can be quantified. At the Life Cycle Impact Assessment level, other impacts than the greenhouse gases balance have to be taken into account, like impacts related to the use of fertilizers (acidification and eutrophication) and phytosanitary products (human toxicity and ecotoxicity), impacts of direct and indirect land use change, and water consumptions. Finally, as biofuel is aiming at replacing existing energy productions, an energy balance should always be carried out; the Cumulative Energy Demand Ratio offers a convenient framework in that regard.
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hal-01247073 , version 1 (21-12-2015)



Pierre Collet, Arnaud Hélias, Laurent Lardon, Jean-Philippe Steyer, Olivier Bernard. Recommendations for Life Cycle Assessment of algal fuels. Applied Energy, 2015, 154, pp.1089-1102. ⟨10.1016/j.apenergy.2015.03.056⟩. ⟨hal-01247073⟩
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