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Utilising carbon dioxide for transport fuels: The economic and environmental sustainability of different Fischer-Tropsch process designs

Cuéllar-Franca, Rosa; García-Gutiérrez, Pelayo; Dimitriou, Ioanna; Elder, Rachael H.; Allen, Ray W.K.; Azapagic, Adisa

Authors

Rosa Cuéllar-Franca

Pelayo García-Gutiérrez

Rachael H. Elder

Ray W.K. Allen

Adisa Azapagic



Abstract

© 2019 The Authors Producing fuels and chemicals from carbon dioxide (CO2) could reduce our dependence on fossil resources and help towards climate change mitigation. This study evaluates the sustainability of utilising CO2 for production of transportation fuels. The CO2 feedstock is sourced from anaerobic digestion of sewage sludge and the fuels are produced in the Fischer-Tropsch (FT) process. Using life cycle assessment, life cycle costing and profitability analysis, the study considers four different process designs and a range of plant capacities to explore the effect of the economies of scale. For large-scale plants (1,670 t/day), the FT fuels outperform fossil diesel in all environmental impacts across all the designs, with several impacts being net-negative. The only exceptions are ozone depletion, for which fossil diesel is the best option, and global warming potential (GWP), which is lower for fossil diesel for some process designs. Optimising the systems reduces the GWP of FT fuels in the best case by 70% below that of fossil diesel. Assuming a replacement of 9.75–12.4% of fossil diesel consumed in the UK by 2,032, as stipulated by policy, would avoid 2–8 Mt of CO2 eq./yr, equivalent to 2–8% of annual emissions from transportation. However, these fuels are not economically viable and matching diesel pump price would require subsidies of 35–79% per litre. Optimising production yields would allow decreasing the subsidies to 8%. Future research should be aimed at technology improvements to optimise these systems as well as evaluating different policy mechanisms needed to stimulate markets for CO2-derived fuels.

Citation

Cuéllar-Franca, R., García-Gutiérrez, P., Dimitriou, I., Elder, R. H., Allen, R. W., & Azapagic, A. (2019). Utilising carbon dioxide for transport fuels: The economic and environmental sustainability of different Fischer-Tropsch process designs. Applied Energy, 253, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apenergy.2019.113560

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 15, 2019
Online Publication Date Sep 5, 2019
Publication Date 2019-11
Deposit Date Sep 6, 2019
Publicly Available Date Sep 9, 2019
Journal Applied Energy
Print ISSN 0306-2619
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 253
Article Number 113560
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apenergy.2019.113560
Keywords Carbon capture and utilisation, Climate change, Fischer-Tropsch liquid fuels, Life cycle assessment, Life cycle costing, Sustainability assessment
Public URL https://nottingham-repository.worktribe.com/output/2579174
Publisher URL https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306261919312346
Additional Information This article is maintained by: Elsevier; Article Title: Utilising carbon dioxide for transport fuels: The economic and environmental sustainability of different Fischer-Tropsch process designs; Journal Title: Applied Energy; CrossRef DOI link to publisher maintained version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apenergy.2019.113560; Content Type: article; Copyright: © 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

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