Life cycle analysis of renewable gaseous fuel and biological methanation systems

Life cycle analysis of renewable gaseous systems

Researcher: Magdalena Czyrnek-Delêtre

T: 00353 (0) 21 490-1966

Funding Body: Co-funded by SFI MaREI and B9

Programme: MaREI

Project Type: PhD

Period: Jan 2014 – Dec 2017

Project Description:

Biogas produced through anaerobic digestion at plant contains usually about 55% of CH4. Biogas upgrading using H2 as in Sabatier reaction (4H2 + CO2 -> CH4 + 2H2O) increases CH4 content to more than 90%. The main advantage of this process is that such upgraded biogas can be injected directly into the natural gas grid. Common methods of biogas upgrading are costly and might cause higher greenhouse gases and other emissions. Biological methanation does not have the disadvantages of standard methods. However, as the method was developed only recently, there is no life cycle assessment (LCA) data available to date. It is therefore very important to conduct LCA study of biological methanation to understand fully its benefits and identify possible problems.

This project’s main aim is to conduct a full LCA study of biological methanation systems using LCA software GaBi (PE International) and looking at various environmental indicators. The LCA will cover the entire biofuel life cycle, including agricultural processes (if any) as well as the treatment of co- and by-products. The project will also include a LCA comparison of first, second and third generation biofuel systems, as well as macro-algae biofuel and macro-algae coupled with hydrogen up-grading, and biofuel from landfill sites. Finally, the aim is also to tackle the methodological challenges related to current European legislation on renewable energy sources. 

Environmental Research Institute

University College Cork, Lee Road, Cork