Case studies

 

This page gives some examples of projects carried out by LCAworks for clients and also of some key, relevant projects carried out by the founder members of LCAworks.


Demand for Traditional Biomass: Understanding historical demand and drivers for future demand


Work led by Jem Woods, supported by Piers Cooper and Frank Rosillo-Calle

Client: Shell International

The Challenge: Develop the improved datasets for the historical demand for traditional biomass for energy purposes and to scope the framework for projections of future demand grounded in the best available science.

Approach: Working closely with Ecofys - A Navigant Company, we carried out a literature review and evaluation of existing global datasets and activities to assess the uncertainty in current assessments of the demand for / use of biomass for traditional forms of household energy service provision.

Results: Our preliminary results suggest that there is currently a substantial underestimate of the scale of tradtional forms of biomass use for energy.


Assessing the Carbon Balance of a Novel Process for Harvesting, Drying, Briquetting and Use of Wetland Biomass for Bioenergy

Work led by Prof. Richard Murphy, and supported by Nicole Kalas and Mark Akhurst

Client:  UK Process Engineering Company.

The Challenge: Carry out preliminary assessment of the GHG balance and full environmental LCA of a novel process for harvesting, drying, briquetting and use of wetland biomass for bioenergy.

Approach:
LCAworks used the principles of recognised standards for Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) such as the 14040 series and PAS 2050 to develop a cradle-to-grave life cycle model for the assessment.

Results
: The results of the preliminary study demonstrated that the approach offers significant advantages in GWP100, Abiotic depletion (mainly fossil fuel consumption), Ozone layer depletion and human toxicity impact categories. In common with other biomass to energy systems the approach has higher impacts, relative to natural gas, in Acidification, Eutrophication, and Photochemical oxidation potentials. The principal causes of these higher impacts are NOx, SOx and CO released on briquette combustion. The significant advantage for the wetland biomass briquettes in the GWP100 and fossil fuel depletion categories (almost 1/10th of the emissions when compared to the reference energy source) indicate a substantial benefit for this low-carbon potential energy source. A further, more detailed study is needed to confirm the findings.

 

Life cycle assessment and social review for BioReview Project

Collaborative academic and industry project.

Jem Woods, Piers Cooper, Mairi Black

The project: BioReview
an Innovate UK and Newton Bhabha Fund Industrial Waste Challenge project.


The Challenge: The Bioreview project is working on turning sugar industry waste into new sustainable products with societal benefits. The BioReview project aim is to create wealth from sugar industry waste addressing the environmental issues by a comprehensive and sustainable approach cohesively considering the community health and general well-being.
Our work: LCAworks is working closely with all partners to produce detailed environmental and social life cycle assessments to help the project achieve its ambitious environmental and social objectives.

 

Sustainable drink bottles: LCAworks contributes to Coca-Cola win at the DuPont packaging awards

Dr Richard Murphy, Dr Jeremy Woods and Miss Miao Guo


The Project: Through Imperial Consultants, LCAworks carried out a full life-cycle analysis of the product as a major part of Coca Cola’s development programme.
Our work: The bottle is made by a process that turns sugar cane and molasses, a by-product of sugar production, into monoethylene glycol, a major component of PET plastic. The packaging is made of up to 30% plant-based material and can be recycled in the existing recycling infrastructure.Research from LCAworks has shown that the bottle has a significantly reduced carbon footprint compared to petroleum-based PET plastic bottles. Coca-Cola North America have already begun to pilot this bottle in select markets. About the awards The DuPont packaging awards began in 1986 and since 1989 have recognised environmental achievements in the area of packaging.

 

Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Life Cycle Assessment of Hydrothermal Cracking technology for Bio-coal Technology Company

Mark Akhurst, Nicole Kalas, Prof. Richard Murphy

Client: Antaco UK Limited.

The Challenge: Carry out preliminary assessment of the GHG balance of a novel Hydrothermal Cracking (HTC) process for converting organic waste into Bio-Coal.

Approach: The project is a £1.99m 3 year project supported by Newton Bhabha Fund Industrial Waste Challenge project, a collaboration of scientific research and business from India and the UK in order to create innovative solutions to global challenges. Focusing on India which is the world’s second largest producer and largest consumer of sugar. The work will then move forward into industrial deployment of the science and technology; realising direct economic benefits to the Indian sugar industry and wider societal benefits for the community.

LCAworks: LCAworks is working closely with all partners to produce detailed environmental and social life cycle assessments to help the project achieve its ambitious environmental and social objectives.

 

Assessing the Carbon Balance of a Novel Process for Harvesting, Drying, Briquetting and Use of Wetland Biomass for Bioenergy

Prof. Richard Murphy, Nicole Kalas, Mark Akhurst

Client:  UK Process Engineering Company.

The Challenge: Carry out preliminary assessment of the GHG balance and full environmental LCA of a novel process for harvesting, drying, briquetting and use of wetland biomass for bioenergy.

Approach:
LCAworks used the principles of recognised standards for Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) such as the 14040 series and PAS 2050 to develop a cradle-to-grave life cycle model for the assessment.

Results
: The results of the preliminary study demonstrated that the approach offers significant advantages in GWP100, Abiotic depletion (mainly fossil fuel consumption), Ozone layer depletion and human toxicity impact categories. In common with other biomass to energy systems the approach has higher impacts, relative to natural gas, in Acidification, Eutrophication, and Photochemical oxidation potentials. The principal causes of these higher impacts are NOx, SOx and CO released on briquette combustion. The significant advantage for the wetland biomass briquettes in the GWP100 and fossil fuel depletion categories (almost 1/10th of the emissions when compared to the reference energy source) indicate a substantial benefit for this low-carbon potential energy source. A further, more detailed study is needed to confirm the findings.

 

HGCA Greenhouse Gas Calculator

Dr Jeremy Woods, Mark Akhurst, Nicole Kalas


Developed a web-based tool for the Home Grown Cereals Authority (HGCA) to allow detailed lifecycle assessment of UK produced biofuels.  The calculator is designed to allow farmers and ethanol suppliers to test how changes made in management practices or inputs could affect the overall GHG balance of the resulting ethanol production.  LCAworks is currently updating the calculator to take account of the results of a recent research project to assess the impacts of different end-uses of straw on the biofuel GHG balance, and for recent changes in the EU Renewable Energy Directive.  As part of the original GHG Calculator project, Dr Jeremy Woods co-authored the HGCA study: “Understanding and managing uncertainties to improve biofuel GHG emissions calculations”: The report reviews the nature and extent of uncertainties surrounding GHG emissions for biofuel feedstock production.


Greenhouse gas (GHG) lifecycle analysis of commercial bio-ethanol production

Mark Akhurst, Nicole Kalas, Dr Jeremy Woods

Client:
Two UK based Bio-ethanol producers.

The Challenge: Assess the GHG balance of bio-ethanol produced from UK wheat, against a background of regulatory uncertainty.

Approach:
LCAworks carried out a detailed evaluation of the likely outcomes of EU regulation uncertainty to identify the most likely impacts on biofuel LCA methodologies. The outcomes of the evaluation were then used as a basis for updating LCA methodology for wheat ethanol to create a set of scenarios for which the GHG balance was assessed. Detailed input data were obtained from the clients for feedstock, conversion and transport/storage segments of the biofuel value chain.

Results: The results show a range of possible GHG balances for the clients’ biofuels, depending upon different interpretations of the regulation and different choices of input data.  The results have been used in both cases to inform technology and feedstock choices.

 

The Wood-Up project - Optimization of WOOD gasification chain in South Tyrol to prodUce bio-energy and other high-value green Products to enhance soil fertility and mitigate climate change

PI: Prof. Giustino Tonon, Libra Universita di Bolzano; LCAworks: Timo Rossberg, Jem Woods, Piers Cooper, Prof. Richard Murphy

Client: Uni Bozano (European Union Funded).

The Challenge: The Wood-Up project aims to develop an improved and valorised gasification chain of woody biomass for energy, soil improvement and climate change mitigation in the region of South Tyrol, Italy..

Approach: LCAworks will assist Uni Bolzano to carry out a life cycle assessment (LCA) of the optimised biomass flows for the wood gasification processes in South Tyrol including the production of novel materials and products.

Results: The project is developing the analytical boundary and life-cycle inventory.


Scoping Life Cycle Assessment and Carbon Footprint of Microencapsulated Laundry Detergent Application

Prof. Richard Murphy, Nicole Kalas, Kenny Leung

Client: Aqdot Limited.

The Challenge: Carry out preliminary life cycle assessment and carbon footprint of a novel fabrication technology for smart capsules that possess customisable properties to suit the needs of a variety of industries. The project is funded from the European Institute of Innovation and Technology’s “Climate KIC”.

Approach: The funding has been used to support the development of data, methodologies and modelling tools, which will support Aqdot’s strategy of building low carbon performance into its business. LCAworks carried out a preliminary life cycle assessment of the processes involved.  LCAworks used proprietary LCA software “SIMApro” to model the Life Cycle Inventory and Impacts.

Results: The project has taken a preliminary look at how to optimise and value the greenhouse gas (GHG) saving potential of Aqdot’s technology.  The project is still in progress.


Complete Life Cycle Assessment of Bio-polyethylene

Dr Richard Murphy, Miao Gao, Mark Akhurst

Client: Multinational Chemicals Company

Challenge: To carry out a full lifecycle assessment (LCA) on bio-polyethylene manufactured from sugar and molasses sourced from multiple world regions.

Approach and results: Using ISO14000 series compliant LCA methods, LCAworks carried out a detailed environmental life cycle assessment.  The project is complete and the client is in the process on internalising the findings and knowledge base generated by the project. The client has recognised significant value in the project as a means of delivering environmental benefits to its customers and of documenting the environmental performance of its products.


Sustainable land use projects (including indirect land use change – ILUC – modelling)

Review of European Commission Modelling of Biofuel Indirect Land Use Change Mark Akhurst, Nicole Kalas, Dr Jeremy Woods

Client: BP Biofuels.

The Challenge:
The European Commission is facing a difficult challenge to implement policy dealing with the indirect impacts (on land use) of expanding biofuel use in Europe. In an attempt to better understand and quantify the challenge, the Commission commissioned a series of studies in 2010 to model the impacts using global and partial equilibrium models. Thought leaders are of differing opinions regarding the accuracy and relevance of the modelling.

Approach: LCAworks carried out a detailed comparison of the modelling methodologies and input data / assumptions and presented the findings in consistent units and frames of reference, facilitating clear comparison between the models and their inputs/assumptions.

Results
: The results have been used widely, including by the Commission itself as an input to further analysis.

Application of “Causal-Descriptive” modelling techniques to assess indirect land use change impacts of European Rapeseed biodiesel production

Mark Akhurst, Nicole Kalas, Dr. Jeremy Woods



Client: A consortium of major European oilseed growers and biodiesel manufacturers.

The Challenge: Assess the GHG impacts of indirect land use change (ILUC) caused by expansion of oilseed rape biodiesel production.

Approach: Apply the “Causal-Descriptive” modeling approach developed by E4tech to oilseed rape biodiesel production in Europe.  Create a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet model which allows a series of scenarios to be evaluated and their ILUC impacts estimated, using a range of actual OSR production data.

Results: The results show that the ILUC impacts of European OSR biodiesel could lie within a broad range of values and are very sensitive to small changes in some key and often very uncertain inputs.  The project helped to identify several key factors which demonstrate that ILUC impacts for European OSR biodiesel may be much lower than suggested by the results of earlier ILUC modeling.    


Sustainability and sustainability regulation

Full Integrated Sustainability Assessment of Novel Process for Regenerating/up-cycling of Waste Oils

Mark Akhurst, Nicole Kalas, Prof. Richard Murphy, Dr Jeremy Woods


Client:
Hydrodec Group plc ("Hydrodec"), the cleantech industrial oil re-refining group (AIM: HYR).

Challenge: Under a programme sponsored by Climate-KIC, HYR have requested support to identify and quantify the wider sustainability benefits of the its technology as a preferred means of regenerating / up-cycling waste oils, by comparing a range of environmental and socio-economic indicators across HYR technology and counterfactuals.

Approach: LCAworks has provided this support by carrying out a qualitative “Integrated Sustainability Assessment (ISA)”, to include environmental and socio-economic elements, for the HYR process, and likely counterfactuals (e.g., PFO), for the UK market.  This work intended to form a key part of developing LCAworks’ internal capability and expertise/data/tools for Integrated Sustainability Assessment, which can subsequently provide ongoing support for the wider low carbon and sustainable business community. 

Results: The outcomes could help Hydrodec better understand how to optimise the overall sustainability of its technology/processes, which could help to support the market value of possible future carbon credits and to help support government policy making for the treatment/disposal of used oil. 

 

Benchmarking of sustainability standards across Europe

Dr Rocio Diaz-Chavez, Dr Frank Rossilio-Calle

Client: European Commission DG Energy (ENER/C1/495-2009)

Challenge: To compare and contrast national regulation related to biomass sustainability and to determine the impact of the regulation on biomass availability and cost, with a view to determining whether there are impacts on biomass trade within the EU and to and from the EU.

Approach: Working as part of a consortium (together with: VITO (main contractor); Copernicus Institute (Utrecht University); TU Vienna; Öko-Institut; ETA Florence; and REC), collect data on all national, regional/local biomass sustainability regulations, on the sustainable use of solid and gaseous biomass. Constructed a series of scenarios to model the impacts of the regulations on biomass production and use in the EU until 2020 (and beyond) - including an assessment of the impacts on international bioenergy trade, both within the EU and from/to the EU. 

  

Climate-KIC Innovation Project- Adaptation and Mitigation through Bio-Succinate Innovation (ADMIT Bio-SuccInnovate)

Prof Richard Murphy, Dr Jeremy Woods, Nicole Kalas, Kenny Leung

Client: Climate-KIC, working in a consortium with other academic and commercial partners.

The Challenge: Deliver 2nd generation C6 sugar streams produced from lignocellulosic biomass for the commercial production of bio-succinic acid;  demonstrate improved greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions, and economic viability to facilitate commercialisation of 2G sugars; Develop innovative bio-tech processes for the commercialisation of lignocellulosic biomass co-products; Identify market hot-spots to accelerate the uptake of bio-based products with greatest potential economic growth and GHG reduction.  LCAworks’ role is specifically to input to the Lice Cycle Assessment and Sustainability Assessment aspects of the project.



COMPETE: Competence Platform on Energy Crop and Agroforestry Systems for Arid and Semi-arid Ecosystems- Africa. 
 

An EUFP7 funded project to research the use of renewable natural resources for bioenergy implementation in sub Saharan Africa. The work incorporated research on: current and potential land use and bioenergy crops; review and consultation on certification and standard systems related to biofuels; stakeholders mapping; and assessment of policies. This project also contributed to the review of some of the EIA procedures in different countries and the guidelines regarding the implementation of ESIAS particularly in Africa but also in Latin America and Asia. 


CIFOR/EuropeAid, “Bioenergy, sustainability and trade-offs: Can we avoid deforestation while promoting bioenergy?” 

Dr. Jeremy Woods


A EuropeAid funded project aiming to evaluate the impacts of expanded bioenergy on deforestation, with a special emphasis on the impacts from expanded biofuels imports into the EU. The analysis includes case studies in Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, Tanzania and Indonesia. One component looks specifically at the expected impacts from the EU Renewable Energy Directive.  Dr Jeremy Woods.

Lead Authorship on SCOPE Study: “Biofuels: Environmental Consequences and Interactions with Changing Land Use”

Dr. Jeremy Woods


The Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE) of the International Council for Science (ICSU) established the International SCOPE Biofuels Project to provide a comprehensive and objective, science-based analysis of the effects of biofuels on the environment. Dr Jeremy Woods.