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PhD Final Defense for Dalton Stewart

Event Type
Civil and Environmental Engineering
wifi event
Jun 21, 2024   9:30 am  
Originating Calendar
CEE Seminars and Conferences

Improving Estimates of Biorefinery Sustainability via Enhanced Consideration of Location

Advisor: Associate Professor Jeremy Guest


Cellulosic biofuels present an impactful opportunity to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with transportation fuels and avoid some of the consequential effects of climate change. Despite this and other benefits including maintaining biodiversity and reducing negative effects on human health, cellulosic biofuel production remains technologically challenging and expensive. The continued emergence of new bioenergy crops and biorefining technologies, combined with variation in economic context, farming practices, and energy sources across the United States, requires characterization of a technology’s financial and environmental sustainability via techno-economic analysis (TEA) and life cycle assessment (LCA). The objectives of this work are (1) to evaluate the influence of location-specific policy incentives and economic parameters on the financial viability of biorefineries, (2) to assess how low carbon fuel program provisions affect biofuel carbon intensity (CI) estimates and resulting financial viability, and (3) to synthesize methodological recommendations for agile TEA and LCA that may ultimately be used inform the development of future biofuel policy. The research objectives were accomplished by supplementing existing refinery-scale TEA models with spatially-explicit datasets of input parameters; evaluating the availability and utility of field-level data for inputs that affect the environmental impacts of growing bioenergy feedstocks; and performing a comprehensive literature review of biorefinery TEAs and LCAs. Ultimately, the results of this work may be used to generate improved biorefinery TEA and LCA results, in turn better informing the development of public policy and addressing the threat of climate change.

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