Growing energy needs and medium-term weakening of fossil energy reserves are driving forces towards the exploitation of alternative and renewable energy sources, such as biofuels from energy crops. In recent years, Camelina sativa
(L.) Crantz has been rediscovered and is gaining popularity worldwide. The present work reports the results of a study on the life cycle, from cradle-to-gate, of C. sativa
oil as a raw material for the production of biofuels in northern Italy, considering two scenarios, namely, the production of biodiesel (BD) and the extraction of pure vegetable oil (PVO). The functional unit was 1 megajoule of biofuel. A life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) was calculated according to the ILCD2011 procedure. Focusing on the global warming potential, the PVO scenario performs better than the BD scenario, with around 30 g CO2
. The net energy ratio (NER) exceeds unity for BD (approximately 1.4) or PVO (approximately 2.5). The same general trend was recorded for all calculated LCIA indicators; the common evidence is a generalized worse performance of the BD scenario, with indicators always scoring higher than the PVO. In particular, the two human toxicity indicators—carcinogenic and fresh water—eutrophication represent a significant difference, attributable to the refining process. Uncertainty and sensitivity analyses, respectively, underline the generalized importance of agricultural performances in the field and of allocation choices. Specifically, the importance of the grain yield and seed oil content in determining the environmental performance of the two scenarios was evident. As far as allocation is concerned, mass allocation provides the most favorable results, while on the other hand, the expansion of the system was the most penalizing alternative.
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