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Environmental life-cycle assessment of rapeseed-based biodiesel: Alternative cultivation systems and locations

João Malça, António Coelho and Fausto Freire

Applied Energy, 2014, vol. 114, issue C, 837-844

Abstract: This article presents an assessment of the environmental performance of rapeseed-based biodiesel, addressing alternative geographical locations and cultivation systems for rapeseed (in Spain, France, Germany and Canada). Four environmental impact categories have been assessed using the CML 2001 life-cycle impact assessment method: abiotic depletion; global warming; acidification; and eutrophication. Results show that rapeseed cultivation has the highest contribution to all the environmental impact categories evaluated, with a share between 40% (abiotic depletion, Germany) and 98% (eutrophication, Spain). The use of fertilizers and associated soil emissions are the main contributions to the environmental impacts of cultivation. Soil carbon changes due to different agricultural practices are particularly important in terms of the global warming impact of rapeseed-based biodiesel. The use of fossil methanol in biodiesel production has significant impacts in terms of abiotic depletion and the consumption of heavy fuel oil in transoceanic transportation is an important contributor to acidification.

Keywords: CML 2001; Environmental impacts; Land use; LCA; Rapeseed methyl ester (RME); Transportation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2014
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Handle: RePEc:eee:appene:v:114:y:2014:i:c:p:837-844