In English

Assessing the Sustainability of First Generation Ethanol for Bioethylene Production

Kristina Qvint ; Amanda Nordqvist Melander
Göteborg : Chalmers tekniska högskola, 2016. 112 s. Report - Division of Environmental Systems Analysis, Chalmers University of Technology; 2016:6, 2016.
[Examensarbete på avancerad nivå]

The majority of plastic materials today are petroleum based making the plastics industry is one of the drivers of oil extraction. To portray a greener image and decrease the industry’s need for oil, some plastics producers have started using bioethanol as a feedstock. Within the next five years, the demand for bioplastics is expected to increase by about 19 %, increasing the demand for ethanol. Traditionally, ethanol is mainly used as a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. Lately however, there has been much debate regarding if ethanol really is a better alternative for the environment. This study assesses the sustainability of first generation ethanol on behalf of the petrochemical company Borealis AB. The company is looking into the possibility to produce ethanol-based biopolyethylene. Borealis AB is part of the project Locally Grown Plastics, aiming to produce packaging material from second generation ethanol from Swedish forestry residues. This project is still 5-10 years away from realization, however, Borealis AB are considering commencing their production of bioplastics earlier, using first generation ethanol. Scientific literature, certification schemes, and a study of actors in the ethanol industry, show that ethanol can be produced in a manner that makes it a more sustainable option for plastics production than oil. To assess the sustainability of ethanol producers in Brazil, the US and Africa, a framework was constructed. After applying the framework, comparing different feedstocks for ethanol, and looking at the certified biomass potential, three Brazilian suppliers were deemed most promising. These are recommended as the best options for Borealis, should they decide to produce bioplastics from first generation ethanol. It is concluded that first generation ethanol can be a viable choice of feedstock for a European bioplastics producer, such as Borealis AB. However, appropriate and credible certification must obtained by the ethanol suppliers to ensure the sustainability of their practice. Brazilian sugarcane ethanol is found to be the most sustainable alternative and three companies operating in the area are recommended as suppliers for Borealis AB.

Nyckelord: First generation ethanol, Bioethylene, Sustainability, Certification, Carbon balance Sugarcane, Corn, Softwood thinnings



Publikationen registrerades 2016-04-12. Den ändrades senast 2016-09-27

CPL ID: 234574

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