A preliminary life cycle analysis of bioethanol production using seawater in a coastal biorefinery setting

Abdelrahman Zaky*, Claudia E. Carter , Fanran Meng, Christopher E. French

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Bioethanol has many environmental and practical benefits as a transportation fuel. It is one of the best alternatives to replace fossil fuels due to its liquid nature, which is similar to the gasoline and diesel fuels traditionally used in transportation. In addition, bioethanol production technology has the capacity for negative carbon emissions, which is vital for solving the current global warming dilemma. However, conventional bioethanol production takes place based on an inland site and relies on freshwater and edible crops (or land suitable for edible crop production) for production, which has led to the food vs. fuel debate. Establishing a coastal marine biorefinery (CMB) system for bioethanol production that is based on coastal sites and relies on marine resources (seawater, marine biomass and marine yeast) could be the ultimate solution. In this paper, we aim to evaluate the environmental impact of using seawater for bioethanol production at coastal locations as a step toward the evaluation of a CMB system. Hence, a life cycle assessment for bioethanol production was conducted using the proposed scenario, named Coastal Seawater, and compared to the conventional scenario, named Inland Freshwater (IF). The impact of each scenario in relation to climate change, water depletion, land use and fossil depletion was studied for comparison. The Coastal Seawater scenario demonstrated an improvement upon the conventional scenario in all the selected impact categories. In particular, the use of seawater in the process had a significant effect on water depletion, showing an impact reduction of 31.2%. Furthermore, reductions were demonstrated in natural land transformation, climate change and fossil depletion of 5.5%, 3.5% and 4.2%, respectively. This indicates the positive impact of using seawater and coastal locations for bioethanol production and encourages research to investigate the CMB system.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1399
Number of pages18
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 13 Aug 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • bioethanol
  • LCA
  • marine fermentation
  • seawater
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae;
  • water footprint
  • bioenergy
  • biofuel
  • marine yeast
  • GHG


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