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Forskningsartikel - Refereegranskat, 2019

Exploring the potential for biomethane production by willow pyrolysis using life cycle assessment methodology

Moghaddam, Elham Ahmadi; Ericsson, Niclas; Hansson, Per-Anders; Nordberg, Ake


BackgroundBiomethane, as a potential substitute for natural gas, reduces the use of fossil-based sources, promoting bioenergy applications. Biomethane for energy use can be produced using a variety of biomass types and technologies. Biomethane from farmland crops is currently produced by anaerobic digestion (AD) of energy crops, which is a biological treatment of organic material resulting in biomethane and digestate. Recently, thermochemical conversion technologies of biomass to biomethane have gained attention. Pyrolysis is a thermochemical process whereby woody biomass is converted to fuel gas and biochar. This study assessed the land use efficiency of producing biomethane through a maize-based AD system compared with switching to a willow-based biomethane system using pyrolysis as an emerging technology. The energy performance and climate impact of the two pathways were assessed from a land use perspective, using life cycle assessment methodology. The entire technical system, from biomass production to delivery of biomethane as the end product, was included within the analysis. The study also investigated how the climate impact was affected when biochar was applied to soil to act as a soil amendment and carbon sequestration agent or when biochar was used as an energy source.ResultsPyrolysis of willow had a higher external energy ratio and climate mitigation effect than maize-based AD as a result of lower primary energy inputs and lower methane loss in the pyrolysis process and upgrading units. Furthermore, the biochar from willow pyrolysis, when used as a soil amendment or energy source, contributed significantly to the climate impact mitigation potential in both cases. Substituting fossil gas with biomethane gave a considerable reduction in climate impact in all scenarios, especially in the case of willow pyrolysis. The willow pyrolysis system acted as a carbon sink, resulting in a negative climate impact, counteracting global warming.ConclusionFrom a land use perspective, the transition from maize-based AD to a willow-based pyrolysis system for biomethane production could be beneficial regarding the energy performance and climate impact. Application of biochar to the soil in the willow scenario contributed significantly to counteracting emissions of greenhouse gases.


Anaerobic digestion; Maize; Willow; Pyrolysis; Life cycle assessment; Biochar

Publicerad i

Energy, Sustainability and Society
2019, Volym: 9, artikelnummer: 6