The need for biofuels is steadily increasing as a result of political strategies and the need for energy security. Biorefineries have the potential to improve the sustainability of biofuels through further recovery of valuable bioproducts and bioenergy. A life cycle assessment (LCA)-based environmental assessment of a Danish biorefinery system was carried out to thoroughly analyze and optimize the concept and address future research. The LCA study was based on case-specific mass and energy balances and inventory data, and was conducted using consequential LCA approach to take into account market mechanisms determining the fate of products, lost opportunities and marginal productions. The results show that introduction of enzymatic transesterification and improved oil extraction procedure result in environmental benefits compared to a traditional process. Utilization of rapeseed straw seems to have positive effects on the greenhouse gases (GHG) footprint of the biorefinery system, with improvements in the range of 9 % to 29 %, depending on the considered alternative. The mass and energy balances showed the potential for improvement of straw treatment processes (hydrothermal pre-treatment and dark fermentation) as well as minor issues related to enzymes utilization in different bio-processes.
Biomass Conversion and Biorefinery, 2013, Vol 3, Issue 2, p. 127-141