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Life cycle environmental performance and energy balance of ethanol production based on sugarcane molasses in Ethiopia

Gabisa E.W., Bessou C., Gheewala S.H.. 2019. Journal of Cleaner Production, 234 : p. 43-53.

The environmental sustainability of biofuel production is still a debated issue in the world bio-economy development. Therefore, different researches are undergoing to evaluate the sustainability of ethanol production in different countries. This study aimed at analyzing the environmental performance of ethanol production in Ethiopia, considering energy balance and emission reduction using a life cycle assessment approach. It is also intended to identify the environmental hotspots so that possible improvement option can be devised. The life cycle assessment methodology was applied considering three alternative scenarios: 1) Base Case, which is the current situation, 2) Alternative 1, which considers the utilization of biogas from vinasse and bioslurry, and 3) Alternative 2, which includes mechanical harvesting and avoids pre-harvest cane trash burning. The results show that agricultural stage is greatly contributing to the pollutant emissions. The contribution of cane trash burning was significant to all the impact categories considered and avoiding pre-harvest cane trash burning significantly reduced the emissions contributing to global warming, acidification, stratospheric ozone depletion, ozone formation, particulate matter and eutrophication. On the other hand, the introduction of mechanical harvesting to avoid pre-harvest cane trash burning increased ecotoxicity, human toxicity and resource consumption (land, water and mineral) impacts. The net energy balance is positive for all the alternatives considered. In addition to using by-products, proper management of fuel utilization at the agricultural stage can further enhance benefits from the sector. Sensitivity analysis revealed that the price of molasses highly influences both energy ratio and greenhouse gas emissions since it completely shifts the allocation of upstream emissions from sugar to molasses.

Mots-clés : gaz à effet de serre; impact sur l'environnement; Éthanol; utilisation des déchets; bioénergie; déchet agricole; canne à sucre; Éthiopie

Thématique : Sources d'énergie renouvelable; Traitement des déchets agricoles

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