- freely available
Atmosphere 2019, 10(7), 398; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos10070398
2.1. Fuel Selection
- Around 1.5 tonnes/ha was retained on the grain field to prevent soil erosion and enrich soil organic content .
- The average maximum cutting height from soil is 20 cm that does not go further due to the unevenness of the grain field .
- Two locations (Albany and Three springs) were not considered due to the low resource availability of straw to fulfill the requirements for the plant .
2.2. Indicator Selection
2.3. Goal and Scope Definition
2.4. Life Cycle Inventory Analysis
2.5. Life Cycle Impact Assessment
- Australian life cycle inventory emission database (AusLCI) libraries  developed by Australian Life Cycle Assessment Society (ALCAS) were employed to calculate the emissions corresponding to inputs used during the life cycle stages.
- Emission factors for international freight were considered to estimate the emissions for foreign transportation of chemicals and materials from overseas (e.g., urea fertilizers and membrane).
- Eco-inventory emission factors, AusLCI libraries and Western Australian electricity mix were used to estimate emissions from the Li-ion battery, charger, controller, inverter and converter for the electric vehicle.
- US input-output database was used to calculate the environmental impacts from farm machinery production during the agriculture of feedstock for ethanol fuel .
- The environmental impact of producing USD $1 (1998 price) equivalent farm machinery was available in the software database. In order to use this database, the current price of farm machinery was deflated to the 1998 price (average 2.45%) and converted to USD using the 1998 conversion factor [US$ 1=AU$ 1.5875] .
- Emission databases, such as Flexi-N fertilizer were developed based on the composition of Flexi N (40% urea, 40% ammonium nitrate and 20% water) .
- The process for enzyme production and water desalination were developed by using AusLCI libraries.
- The libraries for sodium metabisulphite and detergent for desalination were not available in the Simparo databases, so two main ingredients of sodium metabisulphite (sulphur oxide and caustic soda) were used to develop the emission databases for sodium metabisulphite . In the case of detergent products, sodium silicate and sodium metasilicate pentahydrate were used .
- Although there are emission databases for the Western Australian electricity mix, this was slightly revised using the current electricity mix (Table 2).
3. Results and Discussions
3.1. Global Warming Potential (GWP)
- For example, the GHG emissions for hydrogen fuel production and use in Western Australia for the current study (0.5 kgCO2-eq) is comparable with Biswas et al. (0.67 kgCO2-eq) in 2013 . The GHG emissions of this study were lower due to the fact that it considered the recent WA’s electricity mix where the percentage of renewable was higher than that considered previously. Also, it considered the use of a more efficient electrolysis process.
- Emission from GV without taking into account glider emissions (.0184 kgCO2-eq /VKT i.e., total 2071 kgCO2-eq) and HFCV (.060 kgCO2-eq /VKT) were comparable to Stasinopoulos et al. (total 2137 kgCO2-eq without glider)  and Miotti et al. (around 0.085 kgCO2-eq/VKT with glider)  respectively. The GHG emissions for HFCV were higher for the previous study due to the consideration of glider materials.
- The reduction potential of GHG emissions associated with the replacement of an internal combustion (IC) engine with an EV powertrain of this study (29%) is slightly better than a previous study (22%)  in WA. This small difference mainly resulted from the use of updated energy mix and improved fuel efficiency.
3.2. Fossil Fuel Depletion (FFD)
- Cavalett et al.  showed that E100 (100% ethanol) from sugarcane in Brazil produced 5 times lower FFD than the gasoline, while E65 containing 35% fossil fuel (i.e., gasoline) in this study produced almost 1.54 times lower FFD than the gasoline.
- In addition, the electric vehicle in different European countries reduced FFD impact between 25% to 36% depending on the electricity grid  which was comparable with the current study (i.e., 40% for the EV and 31% for PHEV).
3.3. Water Consumption (WC)
3.4. Land Use
4. Scenario Analysis
5. Uncertainty Analysis
Conflicts of Interest
|Additional vehicle materials|
|The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation|
|Coefficient of variance|
|Ethanol-gasoline blend (65% ethanol and 35% gasoline)|
|Ethanol-gasoline blend (85% ethanol and 15% gasoline)|
|Environmental Life cycle assessment|
|Fossil Fuel Depletion|
|Green Metric tonne|
|Global warming potential|
|Hydrogen fuel cell vehicle|
|International standard organization|
|Kwinana Industrial Area|
|Life cycle assessment|
|Life cycle inventory|
|Proton exchange membrane electrolysis|
|Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle|
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after 1.5 Tonne Retention (Tonne/per ha)
|Land Area +|
(ha × 103)
|Available Straw on Grain Field|
(Value * 103 Tonne)
|Geraldton||(3.24 * − 1.50) = 1.74||267||465|
|Feedstocks||In GWh ||In %||GHG Emission (Low Voltage) |
|GWP||Eighty-seven percent (87%) of the respondents considered global warming potential (GWP) as an important indicator for the current study in WA during the survey process.|
|Different life cycle phases of alternative fuels such as feedstock production, conversion from feedstocks to fuel and transportation are GHG emission-intensive . Around 14% of GHG emission is from the transport sectors of WA . The government of WA is committed to reducing the significant portion of GHG emission from transport sectors through alternative fuels by the year 2031 .|
|FFD||Sixty-seven percent (67%) of the respondents considered fossil fuel depletion (FFD) as an important indicator.|
|Almost all the life cycle stages of alternative fuels consume fossil fuel (such as chemicals and fertilizers during the agricultural production of feedstock; transportation of feedstocks; and energy requirements during the conversion stage) . The transport sector alone consumed 251 PJ of energy (19%) which is the 2nd most energy consumable sector in WA .|
|WC *||Sixty-three percent (63%) of the respondents considered water consumption (WC) as an important indicator.|
|Agriculture production of feedstock and conversion of alternative fuels requires water as a raw material. Electricity and other fossil fuel requirements in the different stages also have their own water use impacts . Almost all of WA (around 85%) falls under the semiarid or arid climate by nature . Estimations suggest that there could be a possible water crisis in the near future in WA as the water supply is reducing over time from both ground and surface water sources [49,50,51].|
|Land use||Fifty-three percent (53%) of the respondents considered it as an important indicator.|
|When any feedstock for alternative fuel derived from agriculture may produce higher land use impact than the fossil fuel . Though the WA state has a huge land area (around 2.5 million km2), additional stress on land for biofuel can produce an impact on food production .|
|Eutrophication||Eutrophication was selected initially through review but 57% of the respondents considered it as a less important indicator for the current study.|
|Eutrophication was identified by the experts as a less important indicator for WA conditions mainly for two reasons. On the production side, as eutrophication results from the direct discharge of effluent to water, it may not be an issue since the alternative fuels are produced in confined spaces and the energy plant wastes are landfilled. Secondly, the alternative fuels are assumed in this study to be sourced from existing agricultural by-products (wheat straw in this study) or, in the case of Mallee, may potentially reduce the nutrient runoff .|
|Human toxicity||Two respondents from academic and industry categories emphasized the importance of ‘human toxicity’ due to its importance on human health.|
|The toxicity indicators are found to be either weak or nonexistent in Australian biofuel and bioenergy projects though upstream agriculture production of feedstock may release a small amount of toxic pesticides but other stages of fuel production are not directly related to emissions (heavy metals, pesticides, hormones, and organic chemical) which cause toxicity [53,54]. It has been found that due to the low population density (one people/km2 in WA) and geographical specificity (most of the Australian cities are near the sea), toxicity substances emitted to the soil in Australia has 160 times lower possibility for human exposure than Western Europe . The human exposure factor was also found to be 20 times lower for toxic substances emitted to the air and water .|
|Biodiversity||Two respondents from academic and industry categories had suggested ‘biodiversity’ as land clearing due to the agriculture production of biofuel can destroy the ecosystem and biodiversity.|
|Most of the lands in Australia were cleared more than 20 years ago and any new land clearing in the country is under strict policy from the Australian government regarding nature conservation and protected areas [33,52]. Biodiversity is considered important where activities from the life cycle of a fuel disturb the local animals and plant life . Feedstocks for alternative fuel production for the present study such as straw (by-product from current agriculture) and Mallee (grown within the narrow belt of existing agricultural systems) and a small portion of wheat for ethanol (from existing agriculture); electricity for EV; and sea water for hydrogen have no direct relationship with the land/forest clearing which can affect biodiversity or ecosystems.|
|Vehicle exhaust emissions (as a measure of human health)||Three respondents from the academic category proposed ‘vehicle exhaust emission’ as air quality is the important driver for the application of alternative fuel.|
|In WA, the contribution of atmospheric air pollution from vehicles was quite low compared to mining and industrial applications. However, direct exposure from low elevated vehicle exhaust emissions (such as CO, PM and NOx) have the potential to cause significant human health problems . Due to this reason, these emissions are considered as social sustainability indicators under the public health category for the current study and were not included here in the environmental life cycle assessment (ELCA) to avoid repetition. Besides, tailpipe CO2 emissions are already included under the GWP impact.|
|PM formation||Two respondents from academic and government categories shared their view regarding ‘PM formation’ due to its potential damage for human health.|
|PM emission all over Australia is not the general problem due to the location of its main cities near the sea, its wind speed, flat terrain, mild industrialization and lower population densities . The country is also ranked 2nd in the world according to the air quality index . However, PM as a measure of human health is considered a social indicator under the current project due to the aforementioned reasons in the vehicle exhaust emission indicator.|
|Comparison with traditional fuel||Two respondents from industry and government categories advised to include this comparison as singling out alternative fuels for a life cycle assessment without ensuring traditional fuels are being subject to the same life cycle assessment is not reasonable and would work against alternative fuel uptake.|
|By following the strategy, gasoline as the baseline fuel was compared with alternative fuel options, as gasoline is the predominant fuel for WA transport sectors.|
|Direct displacement of food (due to feedstocks)||One participant from the government category highlighted the importance of food displacement as biofuel feedstocks may disturb the food cycle.|
|As described in detail in the fuel selection (Section 2.1), feedstocks for the current study (such as straw and mallee and a small portion of wheat) may not disturb the food supply chain in WA. Especially, straw and mallee as they are sourced from the unused resources in WA which have no direct relation with food displacement. However, the potentiality of this indicator will be examined in future for the social sustainability part of the current study.|
|Hydrogen tank||kg||-||-||-||7.77 × 10−4||-|
|Battery *||kg||-||3.37 × 10−3||1.07 × 10−3||2.03 × 10−4||-|
|Fuel cell with assembly||kg||-||-||-||9.50 × 10−4||-|
|Motor||kg||-||6.11 × 10−4||4.82 × 10−4||6.27 × 10−4||-|
|Inverter||kg||-||1.03 × 10−4||7.09 × 10−5||1.05 × 10−4||-|
|Converter||kg||-||2.20 × 10−4||1.52 × 10−4||2.26 × 10−4||-|
|Motor controller||kg||-||7.82 × 10−5||5.40 × 10−5||8.03 × 10−5||-|
|Transmission differential and others (cables, cooling unit)||kg||7.55 × 10−4||5.51 × 10−4||6.98 × 10−4||6.65 × 10−4||7.55 × 10−4|
|charger||kg||-||6.37 × 10−5||3.50 × 10−5||-||-|
|Internal combustion engine||kg||1.31 × 10−3||-||9.14 × 10−4||-||1.41 × 10−3|
|Fuel system||kg||1.60 × 10−4||-||1.38 × 10−4||-||1.62 × 10−4|
|Exhaust system||kg||2.13 × 10−4||-||1.83 × 10−4||-||2.13 × 10−4|
|Types of Emission||Emission Factor||Corresponding Reference|
|Direct N2O emission from N fertilizer||0.1%||Biswas et al. |
|Fraction C in Urea for Urea hydrolysis||0.2||Klein et al. |
|CO2 emission factor for lime||0.12||Klein et al. |
|Emission from leaching|
|N fraction lost due to leaching||0.3||Klein et al. |
|N2O emission due to leaching||0.0075||Klein et al. |
|Fraction of fertilizer N will be emitted as NH3||10%||Barton et al. |
|Emission factor for N2O emission||0.08%||Barton et al. |
|Fertilizer||Amount Which Can Be Required Per Tonne of Straw, Kg ||Amount Considered|
for This Study Per Tonne of Straw, Kg
|Fuel Production||Agriculture||Urea fertilizer||kg||-||-||3.85 × 10−3|
|Di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) fertilizer||kg||7.99 × 10−2||2.78 × 10−2||3.85 × 10−3|
|Muriate of potash (MOP) fertilizer||kg||-||-||1.54 × 10−3|
|Flexi-N fertilizer||kg||7.92 × 10−2||2.75 × 10−2|
|Herbicide & pesticide||kg||1.57 × 10−3||5.46 × 10−4||3.06 × 10−5|
|Diesel for farm machinery||L||9.48 × 10−3||3.30 × 10−4||1.44 × 10−3|
|Diesel for harvester||L||4.90 × 10−3||1.77 × 10−3||7.70 × 10−4|
|Lime application to paddock||kg||8.17 × 10−2||2.84 × 10−2||-|
|Farm machinery||AUD||5.59 × 10−3||1.25 × 10−3||-|
|Harvester for Mallee||P||-||-||3.89 × 10−4|
|Transportation of chemicals and diesel||tkm||4.21 × 10−2||1.40 × 10−2||3.99 × 10−2|
|Feedstock transportation to ethanol plant||tkm||2.6 × 10−1||2.35 × 10−1||5.27 × 10−1|
|Enzyme||kg||-||1.88 × 10−2||1.92 × 10−2|
|Lime||kg||-||8.63 × 10−2||7.58 × 10−2|
|Sulfuric acid||kg||-||3.79 × 10−2||1.04 × 10−1|
|Corn steep liquor||kg||-||2.58 × 10−1||4.08 × 10−2|
|DAP||kg||4.74 × 10−3||4.8 × 10−3|
|NaOH||kg||1.66 × 10−3||1.71 × 10−3|
|Electricity||kWh||8 × 10−2||-||-|
|Transportation of chemicals||tkm||1.65 × 10−1||2.17 × 10−1|
|Distribution & Transport||Transportation to blending stations||tkm||-||1.03 × 10−1||1.03 × 10−1|
|E 65 Transportation to retailers|
|tkm||1.65 × 10−1|
|Fuel Production||Electricity||kWh||5.40 × 10−1|
|Desalinated water from sea||L||9.00 × 10−2|
|Hydrogen Compression||kWh||9.42 × 10−3|
|Distribution to Retailer||tkm||1.5 × 10−1|
|Water Desalination (1 L)||Electricity||kWh||3.00 × 10−3|
|Sodium hypochlorite||g||3.57 × 10−3|
|sulphuric acid||g||6.90 × 10−4|
|sodium metabisulphite||g||7.00 × 10−5|
|Detergent||g||2.72 × 10−3|
|Citric acid||g||9.30 × 10−4|
|Caustic soda||g||4.00 × 10−4|
|Biocide||g||9.86 × 10−3|
|Polypropylene||g||5.00 × 10−5|
|Polyethylene||g||5.00 × 10−4|
|Polyurethane||g||1.40 × 10−4|
|Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene||g||1.27 × 10−3|
|Polyamide||g||1.40 × 10−4|
|Local (chemicals)||tkm||8.72 × 10−4|
|International (membranes from USA)||tkm||5.48 × 10−4|
|Waste to landfill||tkm||1.10 × 10−2|
|Indicators||Impact Assessment Method||Unit|
|Global warming Potential (GWP)||IPCC GWP 100 based on IPCC 2013 ||kgCO2-eq/VKT|
|Fossil fuel depletion (FD)||CML-IA baseline V3.03 / World 2000. Based on lower heating value. Does not include renewable energy and energy from waste.||MJ/VKT|
|Water Consumption (WC)||Australian indicator set v2.01||cm3 H2O/VKT|
|Land Use||Australian indicator set v2.01||cm2.a/VKT|
|Hydrogen||Hot spots||Hydrogen production by Wind energy||-Base case result: 120% higher than gasoline.|
|-After implementing the strategy:|
70% lower than gasoline.
|EV||Hot spots||Cleaner grid electricity for charging||-Base case result: 29% lower than gasoline.|
|-After implementing the strategy: 50% lower than gasoline.|
|PHEV||Hot spots||Use of E10 in place of gasoline||-Base case result: 14% lower than gasoline.|
|Hot spots||Cleaner grid electricity for charging||-After implementing the strategies and alternative scenario: 33% lower than gasoline. Additional reduction of 3% for E10, 11% for cleaner electricity and 5% for considering the alternative scenario was achieved from the base case.|
|Alternative scenario||Vehicle runs on electricity for 60% of the travel time.|
|Ethanol (E65)||Hot spots||Renewable energy is used for enzyme production||-Base case result: 40% lower compared to gasoline.|
-After implementing the strategy: 5% additional reduction per L of fuel. Overall reduction of 41% per km compared to gasoline.
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