Techno-economic analysis and life-cycle analysis of two light-duty bio-blendstocks: isobutanol and aromatic rich hydrocarbons
Isobutanol and aromatic-rich hydrocarbons (ARHC) are two biomass-derived high octane blendstocks that could be blended with petroleum gasoline for use in optimized spark-ignition engines in light-duty vehicles, potentially increasing engine efficiency. To evaluate technology readiness, economic viability, and environmental impacts of these technologies, we use detailed techno-economic analysis (TEA) and life-cycle analysis (LCA). We assumed isobutanol is produced via biochemical conversion of an herbaceous feedstock blend while ARHC is produced via thermochemical conversion of a woody feedstock blend.The minimum estimated fuel selling price (MFSP) of isobutanol ranged from $5.57/gasoline gallon equivalent (GGE) based on today’s technology to $4.22/GGE with technology advancements. The MFSP of ARHC could decline from $5.20/GGE based on today’s technology to $4.20/GGE as technology improves. Both isobutanol and ARHC offer about 73% GHG emission reduction relative to petroleum gasoline per LCA of these two bio-blendstocks. On the other hand, water consumption in the production of both bio-blendstocks exceeds that of conventional gasoline although process engineering offers routes to cutting water consumption. Over their life cycles, both isobutanol and ARHC emit more NOx and PM2.5 than petroleum gasoline.Improving the energy efficiency and lowering air emissions from agricultural equipment will reduce the life-cycle air pollutant emissions of these bio-blendstocks.