Life Cycle Analysis

LCA Projects

NETL uses life cycle analysis (LCA) as a tool and framework for evaluating energy technology and policy options on a common basis. LCA includes the environmental burdens of converting fuel to useful energy, infrastructure construction, extraction and transportation of fuel, and transport of the final energy product to the end user. NETL's LCA method also includes life cycle costing (LCC), which applies cost metrics to the same boundaries as their environmental models. NETL has applied LCA to fossil, nuclear, and renewable energy systems that produce electricity and liquid fuels. The final products of these LCAs include detailed reports as well as dynamic software tools.


Indirect Impacts of Renewable Electricity Penetration and the Growing Importance of a Life Cycle Perspective
In this presentation, given at the LCA XIV Conference, it is observed that the percent of direct emissions to total emissions from the U.S. electricity mix decreases by 1.34%, and indirect emissions associated with wind, solar thermal, geothermal, and natural gas increase from 2010 to 2040. As such, the field of LCA becomes more important in the next 30 years in determining both the direct and indirect GHG emissions associated with comparative energy technologies, as well as other potential environmental impacts, where differences in indirect and direct emissions would be captured in framing economy wide policies.
Authors: Jeremie Hakian, Joe Marriott, James Littlefield, Greg Cooney, Timothy J. Skone, P.E.
Date: December, 2014

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Life cycle GHG Footprint of a U.S. Energy Export Market for Coal and Natural Gas
This presentation was given at the LCA XIV Conference and shows that the majority of life cycle GHG emissions come from power plants; even the LNG export scenarios, which lose approximately 10% of transported natural gas to parasitic loads, have lower life cycle GHG emissions than the coal scenarios.
Authors: Timothy J. Skone, PE, James Littlefield, Joe Marriott, Greg Cooney, Greg Schivley
Date: December, 2014

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Evaluating GHGs from Transportation: Alternative Fuels and Alternative Metrics
In this presentation, given at the LCA XIV conference, the production and end-use combustion of diesel from conventional petroleum and alternative coal to liquid (CTL) or gas to liquid (GTL) technologies with carbon capture and storage (CCS) are compared using a number of different climate change metrics. In addition to traditional static LCIA GHG metrics such as global warming potential (GWP) and global temperature potential (GTP), we model the emissions and their impact over time using technology warming potential (TWP) and temperature results.
Authors: Timothy J. Skone, P.E., Greg Schivley, Matt Jamieson, Joe Marriott
Date: December, 2014

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Understanding the Importance of Leakage Rates to the GHG Footprint of Natural Gas Production
This presentation was given at the LCA XIV Conference. It further examines the boundary assumptions behind recent methane leakage studies, and then provides details behind a life cycle model that can be used to reconcile inconsistent boundary choices and inform critical policy questions regarding future use of fossil fuels.
Authors: Timothy J. Skone, PE, James Littlefield, Joe Marriott, Greg Cooney, Greg Schivley
Date: December, 2014

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Developing an Approach for the Life Cycle Analysis of Conventional Petroleum Fuels: Outlook to 2040 – Crude Extraction and Transport
This presentation, given at the LCA XIV Conference, starts with the original NETL baseline, which is consistent with other published values for conventional fuel production in the U.S, and updates it to determine the life cycle GHG footprint of diesel, gasoline, and jet fuel over time to 2040. The results of this analysis encompass a cradle-to-grave inventory of GHG emissions by utilizing updated models to account for changes to crude extraction, transport and refining.
Authors: Greg Cooney, Joe Marriott, Timothy J. Skone, P.E.
Date: December, 2014

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Overview of LCA at NETL
At the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, life cycle analysis (LCA) is used as tool and framework for performing these types of evaluations. This presentations, given at the LCA XIV Conference, describes the LCA process at NETL, including unique application of stochastic methods to environmental and economic analyses, and show highlights from several recent studies such as a greenhouse gas inventory of unconventional natural gas extraction, and a comparison of advanced power technology options.
Authors: Timothy J. Skone, PE, Robert James
Date: December, 2014

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Value of LCA and its Applicability to Natural Gas Analysis
This presentation discusses the value of an LCA perspective on natural gas with a focus on upstream natural gas. It also discusses the current natural gas research.
Authors: James Littlefield, Joe Marriott, Timothy J. Skone
Date: June, 2014

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Time series analysis of radiative forcing in a co-fired power system
This presentation considers the effect of GHG emission timing from of a power plant using different feedstocks -- coal, hybrid poplar, and roundwood. It also focuses on methods and aspects of the biomass systems, such as GWP metric, DLUC and ILUC, biomass uptake and emission, and modeling choice.
Authors: Greg Schivley, Troy R. Hawkins, Wesley W. Ingwerson, Joseph Marriott, Timothy J. Skone
Date: May, 2014

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Estimating the GHG Footprint of Large-scale, Interconnected Energy Systems
This presentation discusses the benefits of LCA in regards to energy analysis. It compares technology options, evaluates policy impact on systems, considers coal and natural gas boundaries, and evaluates metrics.
Authors: Timothy J. Skone, PE, Joe Marriott, James Littlefield, Greg Cooney
Date: May, 2014

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LCA GHG Report (LNG Report)
This analysis calculates the life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from imported natural gas and regional coal used by power plants in Europe and Asia. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) exported from the U.S. and combusted by power plants in Europe or Asia was compared to regional coal combusted by power plants in Europe and Asia. This analysis also calculates the GHG emissions from natural gas that is extracted in Russia and delivered by pipeline to European and Asian power plants. This analysis is based on data that were originally developed to represent U.S. energy systems. Foreign natural gas and coal production were modeled as representative of U.S. natural gas production and average U.S. coal production. The results show that the use of U.S. LNG exports for power production in European and Asian markets will not increase GHG emissions, on a life cycle perspective, when compared to regional coal extraction and consumption for power production. This analysis is based on data that were originally developed to represent U.S. energy systems. 
Authors: Tim Skone
Date: May, 2014

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Natural Gas and Power LCA Model Documentation (NG Report)
Natural gas is considered a cleaner burning and more flexible alternative to other fossil fuels today. It is used in residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation applications in addition to having an expanding role in power production. However, the primary component of natural gas is methane, which is also a powerful greenhouse gas (GHG). Methane losses from natural gas extraction vary geographically and by extraction technology. This analysis expands upon previous life cycle analyses (LCA) of natural gas power generation technologies performed by the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). It inventories the GHG emissions from extraction, processing, and transmission of natural gas to large end users, and the combustion of that natural gas to produce electricity. It includes scenarios for the 2010 average natural gas production mix as well as for natural gas produced from the next highly productive well for each source of natural gas. This context allows an analysis of what the emissions are currently and what they could be in the future. In addition to GHG emissions, this analysis inventories other air emissions, water quality, water use, land use, and resource energy metrics.

Authors: Tim Skone
Date: May, 2014

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Life Cycle Analysis at the National Energy Technology Laboratory
This is a summary of the Life Cycle Analysis capabilities at NETL. It compares two technology options and evaluating the impact of a policy on an entire system. Boundaries and functions considered are coal and natural gas. It discusses how LCA is beneficial for energy analysis because it draws a more complete picture, allows direct comparison of different options, includes methods for evaluating emissions and impacts, and brings clarity to results.
Authors: Tim Skone
Date: April, 2014

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CCAT NETL CBTL Jet Fuel
The Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology (CCAT) has received funding from the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Energy to demonstrate how liquid fuel can be produced from coal and meet the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 greenhouse gas (GHG) requirement for DOD fuel purchases of synthetic fuel. Section 526 of EISA requires that any fuel purchases have a life-cycle CO2 emission less than conventional petroleum fuel. This study evaluates different scenarios for the conversion of coal and biomass to jet fuel using oxygen blown, transport reactor integrated gasifier and Fischer-Tropsch catalyst configurations.
Authors: Tim Skone
Date: February, 2014

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Understanding the Life Cycle Environmental Footprint of the Natural Gas Value Chain
This is a presentation given to the North Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), Gas Subcommittee meeting on February 9, 2014. The agenda includes the importance of understanding methane emissions from the natural gas sector, the Department of Energy Office's role in reducing methane emissions from the natural gas value chain, a primer on life cycle analysis, and understanding the life cycle environmental footprint of the natural gas value chain.
Authors: Tim Skone, Joe Marriott, James Littlefield
Date: February, 2014

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LCA and the U.S. Natural Gas Resource
From a life cycle perspective, baseload power is NETL's preferred basis for comparing energy sources. For fossil energy systems, the emissions from power plants account for the majority of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, focusing on the activities that precede the power plant is still necessary in order to identify near-term opportunities for GHG emission reductions. NETL's upstream natural gas model allows detailed modeling of the extraction, processing, and pipeline transmission of natural gas. This model can identify key contributors to the GHG emissions from the natural gas supply chain, and has parameters that can be used to assess opportunities for reducing GHG emissions. The model shows that current domestic natural gas extraction, processing, and pipeline technologies leak 1.2% of the methane that is extracted at the wellhead. Improved practices, such as those in the latest New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), can reduce this upstream methane leakage rate. From a life cycle perspective (1 MWh of delivered electricity), power production from natural gas has lower GHG emissions than power produced from coal. There are several methods and technology combinations that can be used for determining how high the upstream natural gas methane leakage rate has to be in order for the life cycle GHG emissions from natural gas power to equal those from coal power. Ongoing research is developing data that will improve the accuracy of NETL's upstream natural gas model.
Authors: Tim Skone, Joe Marriott, James Littlefield
Date: December, 2013

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Using Life Cycle Analysis to Inform Energy Policy
NETL uses LCA to understand the environmental burdens of energy systems and to inform policy makers. LCA is well suited for energy analysis, but its answers can change depending on what questions are being asked. NETL approaches all LCAs using a consistent method, which ensures comparability among LCAs. The granularity and flexibility of NETL's models makes it possible to identify key contributors to the environmental burdens of a system, as well as the ability to understand how results can change with changes to a given input parameter. In addition to understanding the attributes of a given energy technology, NETL can also perform consequential modeling that allows an understanding of how a given energy technology can affect the performance of other energy technologies. The effect of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) on conventional crude oil extraction is one example of such consequential analysis. The results of consequential analyses have more uncertainty than those for analyses that focus on the attributes of isolated systems, but the conclusions of consequential analyses provide more context for policy makers.
Authors: Tim Skone, Joe Marriott, James Littlefield
Date: December, 2013

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Power Plant Flexible Model
The Power Plant Flexible Model (PPFM) is an Excel-based tool that simulates coal combustion-based power plant electrical output, emissions, materials usage, and costs for a fully-configurable mix of boiler and steam plant types, feedstocks, and emissions control equipment. The technical documentation and user's guide for the model are included in the download package. PPFM is not engineered to be a consumer-level product and requires knowledge of coal combustion power plants and processes to yield reasonable results.
Authors: Tim Skone, Greg Cooney, Matthew Jamieson
Date: November, 2013

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Co-firing Biomass to Reduce the Environmental Footprint of Coal-fired Heat and Power: A Good Strategy?
The use of biomass as a feedstock for co-fired electricity generation and heat production is attractive, because it offers renewable energy derived from a domestically available feedstock, and the potential for reductions in greenhouse gases and other environmental impacts. Drivers for the adoption of biomass-based power and heat include the anticipation of forthcoming greenhouse gas (GHG) regulation, compatibility with existing industrial processes and electricity infrastructure, and other potential State or Federal policies. This analysis is the result of collaboration between the Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Risk Management Research Laboratory. The overarching objective of this work is to gain a better understanding of the potential human health and environmental outcomes associated with the use of biomass in electricity generation and combined heat and power operations. Co-firing biomass with coal does reduce GHG emissions, but it can increase some human health and ecosystem impacts. The specific type of biomass and the location where it is produced are important, making it difficult to generalize the results in all impact categories. In scenarios where steam is cogenerated with electricity, co-product management methods (allocation and displacement) can yield different results.
Authors: Tim Skone, Greg Schivley, Greg Cooney, Matt Jamieson, James Littlefield, Joe Marriott
Date: October, 2013

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From Unit Processes to Completed LCAs - NETL Life Cycle Analysis Library
This poster describes what the Department of Energy (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) unit process library is, how the unit processes are used in NETL life cycle analysis (LCA), and how to access it.
Authors: Tim Skone
Date: October, 2013

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Overview of Energy Life Cycle Analysis at NETL
This presentation describes the life cycle analysis (LCA) process at the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). NETL uses LCA as a tool for evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of energy technology and policy options on a common basis. LCA includes the impacts of converting fuel to useful energy, infrastructure construction, extraction and transportation of fuel, and transport of the final energy product to the end user.
Authors: Tim Skone
Date: October, 2013

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The Challenge of Co-product Management for Large-scale Energy Systems—Power, Fuel and CO2
Applying traditional co-product management methods such as physical allocation and system expansion in conventional ways can lead to large study uncertainty in life cycle analysis (LCA) of large scale energy systems. The National Energy Technology Laboratory's (NETL) LCA model of Carbon dioxide-Enhanced Oil Recovery (CO2-EOR) is a cradle-to-grave model that accounts for the greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental burdens from a system which connects the power sector to the liquid fuels sector. The model leverages existing NETL life cycle data to account for environmental burdens upstream and downstream from the CO2-EOR site, including alternative sources of CO2, petroleum refining, and gasoline or diesel combustion. The use of advanced power plants with carbon capture as a source of CO2 results in the co-production of electricity and transportation fuels (gasoline or diesel). Co-product allocation can be avoided by expanding the system to include displacement of other routes to electricity generation, but conjecture about the expanded system leads to wide uncertainty. If energy is used as a basis for co-product allocation between electricity and liquid fuel (diesel or gasoline), the differences between the useful energy in the energy products hinders comparability. Partitioning a portion of the system, in this case the power plant, to perform more accurate energy allocation is a third approach, and is possible when detailed plant schematics allow disaggregation of integrated processes.
Authors: Tim Skone
Date: October, 2013

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A Parameterized Life Cycle Analysis of Crude from CO₂-Enhanced Oil Recovery
Carbon dioxide-enhanced oil recovery (CO2-EOR) is a tertiary oil extraction technology used after primary and secondary techniques have been used at an oil field. CO2-EOR operators use alternating injection schemes of CO2 and water to reduce the viscosity of crude oil, allowing recovery of a resource that would be otherwise unrecoverable. The primary objective of CO2-EOR is to produce additional crude oil from a mature oil field, but CO2-EOR also sequesters CO2. The National Energy Technology Laboratory's (NETL) life cycle analysis (LCA) model of CO2-EOR is a cradle-to-grave model that accounts for the greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental burdens from CO2-EOR systems. A process-based approach uses parameters that allow comparisons of different operating conditions and characterization of uncertainty. The model leverages existing NETL life cycle data to account for environmental burdens upstream and downstream from the CO2-EOR site, including natural dome and several anthropogenic sources of CO2, petroleum refining, and combustion of finished petroleum products such as gasoline or diesel.
Authors: Tim Skone, Joe Marriot
Date: October, 2013

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Improved Natural Gas Extraction as a Strategy for Reducing Climate Impacts of Transportation
This presentation discusses a gas-to-liquids (GTL) system that nominally produces 50,000 bbl/day of fuels fungible in the refined product infrastructure without further refining steps. The system produces 15,500 bbl/day of finished motor gasoline, and 34,500 bbl/day of low-density diesel fuel. The life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for GTL diesel and gasoline, when based on current practices in the natural gas industry, are 90.6 g CO2e/MJ and 89.4 g CO2e/MJ, respectively. If the natural gas extraction and processing sector complies with New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), the upstream GHG emissions from natural gas are reduced by 23 percent.
Authors: Tim Skone, James Littlefield
Date: October, 2013

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The Carbon Footprint of Carbon Dioxide
This presentation examines the carbon footprint of obtaining carbon dioxide. While post-combustion capture at power plants may represent the best near-term opportunity for CO2 capture, there are other sources of CO2 in nature and industry. This analysis accounts for the environmental burdens of CO2 from three alternative sources: natural CO2 domes, natural gas processing plants, and ammonia production plants. This analysis uses a life cycle analysis (LCA) approach for developing data and modeling CO2 systems. The energy and material flows for key processes in the CO2 supply chain were calculated. These processes were then compiled in a model that scaled the flows between processes to arrive at an inventory of environmental burdens on a common basis.
Authors: Tim Skone, Robert James
Date: October, 2013

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Gate-to-Grave Life Cycle Analysis Model of Saline Aquifer Sequestration of Carbon Dioxide
A gate-to-grave life cycle analysis (LCA) model was created to quantify the environmental impacts of the various processes associated with saline aquifer sequestration. The following unit processes are accounted for in this analysis: site preparation, well construction, carbon dioxide sequestration operations, site monitoring, brine management, well closure, and land use. This analysis used an LCA approach for developing data, and modeling saline aquifer sequestration. The energy and material flows for key processes within the gate-to-grave boundaries of the saline aquifer were calculated. These processes were then compiled in a model that scaled the flows between processes to arrive at an inventory of environmental burdens on a common basis (e.g., 1 tonne of carbon dioxide sequestered). 
Authors: Tim Skone, Robert James, Greg Cooney, Matt Jamieson, James Littlefield, Joe Marriott
Date: September, 2013

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Gate-to-Gate Life Cycle Inventory and Model of CO₂-Enhanced Oil Recovery
A gate-to-gate life cycle analysis (LCA) model was created to quantify the environmental impacts of the various processes associated with enhanced oil recovery (EOR). The following unit processes are accounted for in this analysis: injection and recovery, bulk separation and storage, gas separation, supporting processes, and land use. This analysis used an LCA approach for developing data, and EOR and gas processing. The energy and material flows for key processes within the gate-to-gate boundaries of the EOR site were calculated. These processes were then compiled in a model that scaled the flows between processes to arrive at an inventory of environmental burdens on a common basis (e.g., 1 barrel of crude produced via EOR). 
Authors: Tim Skone, Robert James, Greg Cooney, Matt Jamieson, James Littlefield, Joe Marriott
Date: September, 2013

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Cradle-to-Gate Life Cycle Analysis Model for Alternative Sources of Carbon Dioxide
While post-combustion capture at power plants may represent the best near-term opportunity for CO2 capture, there are other sources of CO2 in nature and industry. This analysis accounts for the environmental burdens of CO2 from three alternative sources: natural CO2 domes, natural gas processing plants, and ammonia production plants. This analysis uses a life cycle analysis (LCA) approach for developing data, and modeling CO2 systems. The energy and material flows for key processes in the CO2 supply chain were calculated. These processes were then compiled in a model that scaled the flows between processes to arrive at an inventory of environmental burdens on a common basis (e.g., 1 kilogram of CO2 ready for compression and pipeline transport). 
Authors: James Littlefield, Greg Cooney, Matt Jamieson, Greg Schivley, Joe Marriott
Date: September, 2013

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Analysis of Natural Gas-to-Liquid Transportation Fuels via Fischer-Tropsch
This study models a gas-to-liquids (GTL) system that nominally produces 50,000 bbl/day of fuels fungible in the refined product infrastructure without further refining steps. Specifically, the system produces 15,500 bbl/day of finished motor gasoline, and 34,500 bbl/day of low-density diesel fuel. The study provides an updated evaluation of cost, technical, and environmental performance. With an estimated total as-spent capital cost of 4.3 billion dollars (3.7 – 5.6 billion dollars) or $86,188 ($73,260 - $112,045) per bbl of daily production of Fischer-Tropsch liquids, such a facility would be commercially viable should the market conditions (liquid fuel and natural gas prices) remain as favorable or better throughout the life of the project than during the middle of May 2013. The life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for GTL diesel and gasoline when based on current practices in the natural gas industry are 90.6 g CO2e/MJ and 89.4 g CO2e/MJ, respectively. If the natural gas extraction and processing sector complies with New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), the upstream GHG emissions from natural gas are reduced by 23 percent. The key challenges of GTL are the risk associated with varying gas and product prices, the lack of sustained effort in its development, and its high capital costs. A robust research and development program, besides driving capital cost reductions, can serve the role of sustaining the deep knowledge base in GTL.
Authors: , Jesse Goellner
Date: September, 2013

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A Comparative Assessment of CO2 Sequestration through Enhanced Oil Recovery and Saline Aquifer Sequestration
A comparative assessment of CO2 sequestration through enhanced oil recovery and saline aquifer sequestration.
Authors: Tim Skone, Robert Dilmore
Date: July, 2013

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Life Cycle Analysis: Natural Gas Combined Cycle (NGCC) Power Plant
Life cycle analysis of a natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) plant. Develops an inventory of emissions results, and calculates life cycle costs for the plant with and without CCS.
Authors: Tim Skone, Robert James
Date: June, 2013

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Life Cycle Analysis: Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) Power Plant
Life cycle analysis of an integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) plant. Develops an inventory of emissions results, and calculates life cycle costs for the plant with and without CCS.
Authors: Tim Skone, Robert James
Date: June, 2013

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Power Generation Technology Comparison from a Life Cycle Perspective
This analysis provides insight into key criteria for the feasibility of seven types of energy technologies. The seven types of technologies include electricity from natural gas, co-firing of coal and biomass, nuclear fuel, wind, hydropower, geothermal, and solar thermal resources. The key criteria for evaluating these technologies are defined.
Authors: Tim Skone, James Littlefield, Greg Cooney, Joe Marriott, PhD
Date: March, 2013

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Unconventional Natural Gas: An LCA with a Conventional Answer
LCA of a Natural Gas Combined Cycle plant. Develops an Inventory of emissions results, and calculates Life Cycle costs for the plant with and without CCS.
Authors: Tim Skone, James Littlefield, Joe Marriott, PhD
Date: October, 2012

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Overview of Energy LCA at NETL
Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) is used to inform and defend NETL's technology programs, provide bases for comparison, and identify opportunities for improvement. NETL uses a 5-stage life cycle approach, beginning with raw material acquistion and ending with product use. Metrics include greenhouse gas emissions, other air emissions, water use, water quality, and resource consumption. Uncertainty is quantified for all results produced by NETL's LCA program. NETL's LCA program has made data and modeling tools available to the public.
Authors: Tim Skone
Date: September, 2012

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Modeling the Uncertainty of Fischer-Tropsch Jet Fuel Life Cycle Inventories with Monte Carlo Situation
NETL used Monte Carlo simulation to model the uncertainty in a life cycle inventory that included 6 pathways for the production of Fischer-Tropsch jet fuel. While the inventory is dominated by carbon dioxide emissions from the combustion of the fuel, small changes to the feedstocks can move results above or below the baseline for the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. All scenarios have the potential to have life cycle greenhouse gas emissions less than or equal to the life cycle emissions from conventional jet fuel based on uncertainty analysis of the results.
Authors: Tim Skone, Greg Cooney
Date: September, 2012

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Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Inventory Sensitivity to Changes in Natural Gas System Parameters
This presentation focuses on the greenhouse gases from the extraction, processing, and delivery of natural gas and the key variables that affect the results. It includes eight distinct sources of natural gas and performs a number of sensitivity studies. The production rate of natural gas wells, episodic emission factors and the flaring rate have the most impact on the cradle-to-gate emissions profile, while power plant heat rate or efficiency most affects the cradle-to-grave emissions. New Source Performance Standards have recently focused on the oil and gas sector and could be effective at reducing the upstream emissions from natural gas systems.
Authors: Tim Skone
Date: September, 2012

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From Unit Processes to Completed LCAs: NETL LCA Library
NETL's unit process library holds over 300 unit processes that allow cradle-to-grave analyses of energy systems. It includes gate-to-gate unit processes as well as "rolled up" unit processes that provide cradle-to-gate inventory results. In addition to the unit process database, NETL has also developed publicly available tools that allow calculation of life cycle results.
Authors: Tim Skone
Date: September, 2012

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Exploring Economics and Environmental Performance: Power Systems LCA Tool
The Power LCAT tool shows environmental and cost results for NETL's LCA's of power systems, including fossil and wind power. In addition to reporting results for costs and emissions, it allows trade-off analysis between costs and emissions. It also allows the user to evaluate the sensitivity of results to changes in key parameters.
Authors: Tim Skone
Date: September, 2012

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Contribution of Biomass to the LCI of Cofiring Power
Biomass includes agricultural residues, forest thinnings, and dedicated energy crops. Life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions can be accomplished with coal and biomass co-firing only if biomass is produced with high yield rates and there are miniminal changes to land use. Increasing power plant efficiency or using post-combustion carbon dioxide capture and sequestration can lead to larger GHG reductions than co-firing biomass with coal.
Authors: Tim Skone, Joe Marriott, PhD
Date: September, 2012

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Role of Alternative Energy Sources: Technology Assessment Compilation
NETL has applied a single set of methods for calculating the environmental, cost, and other aspects of seven options for baseload power generation. LCA is used to calculate environmental results, and life cycle boundaries are also applied to cost results. A set of other technical and non-technical criteria are used to gain a broad understanding of the roles of alternative energy sources in the U.S. energy portfolio.
Authors: Robert James, Tim Skone
Date: September, 2012

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LCA: Natural Gas Combined Cycle (NGCC) Power Plant
LCA of a Natural Gas Combined Cycle plant. Develops an Inventory of emissions results, and calculates Life Cycle costs for the plant with and without CCS.
Authors: Tim Skone, Greg Cooney, Kristyn Ivey, Matt Jamieson, James Littlefield, Joe Marriott, PhD
Date: September, 2012

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Role of Alternative Energy Sources: Wind Technology Assessment
Wind can be an important energy resource for the U.S., but as its contribution to total U.S. electricity generation increases, it will require a significant amount of fossil resources for backup power to maintain grid reliability. Wind power has exhibited significant growth over the last decade, but most of this growth was made possible through financial incentives such as temporary renewable energy tax credits. Technology advances that result in lower project costs and energy storage devices that enable better power reliability remain crucial research and development areas for the long-term integration of wind power.
Authors: Tim Skone, James Littlefield, Robert Eckard, Greg Cooney, Marija Prica, Joe Marriott, PhD
Date: August, 2012

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Role of Alternative Energy Sources: Pulverized Coal and Biomass Co-firing Technology Assessment
Co-firing is seen as a way of reducing the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of existing coal-fired power plants, but the incorporation of biomass into an existing coal-fired system increases the complexity of feedstock acquisition. Further, the acquisition of biomass has unique GHG burdens that offset, in part, the GHG reductions from the displacement of coal with biomass. Due to the higher feedstock prices of biomass, the co-firing of biomass at a 10 percent share of feedstock energy can increase the cost of electricity by as much as 31 percent. Other risks include regulatory uncertainty; without policies that encourage the use of renewable feedstocks, there is no incentive for producers to invest in co-fired systems.
Authors: Tim Skone, James Littlefield, Robert Eckard, Greg Cooney, Robert Wallace, Joe Marriott, PhD
Date: August, 2012

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Role of Alternative Energy Sources: Geothermal Technology Assessment
Geothermal power is a proven technology with a large resource base, and the use of flash steam technology has relatively low capital costs that translate to a competitive cost of electricity. However, the characteristics of geologic formations are highly variable and are a barrier to broad implementation of geothermal power. Further, the naturally-occurring CO2 in geofluid leads to relatively high greenhouse gas emissions from geothermal power plants that use flash steam technology.
Authors: Tim Skone, James Littlefield, Robert Eckard, Greg Cooney, Joe Marriott, PhD
Date: August, 2012

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Role of Alternative Energy Sources: Nuclear Technology Assessment
Nuclear power provides a stable source of baseload power in the U.S. with a greenhouse gas footprint similar to that of most renewable power sources. Maintaining the existing share of the U.S. electricity demand with nuclear power depends on the number of existing facilities that receive operating license extensions and the number of planned and approved new reactors that are actually constructed. Low natural gas prices have slowed the nuclear renaissance in the U.S. The storage of spent nuclear fuel also continues to be a major concern since progress on the Yucca Mountain nuclear repository was halted in 2010. While the chances of adverse nuclear events are small and newer nuclear technologies are inherently safer than older technologies, the scale of a nuclear event can have far-reaching environmental and societal risks.
Authors: Tim Skone, Greg Cooney, James Littlefield, Joe Marriott, PhD, G. Neil Midkiff, Barbara McKinnon, Roxanne Bromiley, Robert Eckard, and Maura Nippert
Date: August, 2012

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Role of Alternative Energy Sources: Hydropower Technology Assessment
Hydropower is a proven technology that represents approximately 7 percent of U.S. electricity generation, but the resource base for large hydropower facilities has been fully developed and the growth potential for hydrokinetic hydropower is limited by the small capacities of hydrokinetic installations. The greenhouse gas emissions of hydropower are low, but there are ecological impacts of hydropower that are outside the boundaries of this analysis. Further, the benefits that dams provide with respect to flood control, irrigation, and navigability are difficult to compare on the same basis as hydroelectric power generation, complicating the calculation of the costs of hydropower.
Authors: Tim Skone, James Littlefield, Robert Eckard, Greg Cooney, Joe Marriott, PhD
Date: August, 2012

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Role of Alternative Energy Sources: Solar Thermal Technology Assessment
Solar thermal power is viewed as a clean, renewable alternative to conventional fossil fuels for electricity generation. However, the resource base of solar thermal power is limited by several factors that inform the availability of direct sunlight at any given location. The high cost of solar collectors to support utility level output, water scarcity in areas of high solar potential, and lack of proximity of resources to population centers make it likely that high-quality solar thermal resources are expected to remain untapped for the foreseeable future.
Authors: Tim Skone, James Littlefield, Robert Eckard, Greg Cooney, Marija Prica, Joe Marriott, PhD
Date: August, 2012

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Role of Alternative Energy Sources: Natural Gas Technology Assessment
Natural gas is seen as a cleaner burning and flexible alternative to other fossil fuels, and is used in residential, industrial, and transportation applications in addition to an expanding role in power production. New technologies have allowed increased domestic production of natural gas. The projected supply contributions afforded by new natural gas plays may keep the price of natural gas relatively low for the foreseeable future. Since natural gas is comprised mostly of methane, the control of fugitive emissions is imperative to reduce the greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas.
Authors: Tim Skone, James Littlefield, Robert Eckard, Greg Cooney, Joe Marriott, PhD
Date: June, 2012

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NETL Upstream Dashboard Tool
The goal of the Upstream Tool is to allow the user to customize key parameters specific to their Life Cycle case study or desired scenario, and generate customized Upstream Emissions results quickly and simply.
Authors: Tim Skone, Greg Cooney, Chungyan Shih
Date: June, 2012

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Power Systems Life Cycle Analysis Tool
The Power Systems Life Cycle Analysis Tool (Power LCAT) is a high-level dynamic model that calculates production costs and tracks environmental performance for a range of electricity generation technologies: natural gas combined cycle (NGCC), integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC), supercritical pulverized coal (SCPC), existing pulverized coal (EXPC), nuclear, and wind (with and without backup power). All of the fossil fuel technologies also include the option of carbon capture and sequestration technologies (CCS). The model allows for quick sensitivity analysis on key technical and financial assumptions, such as: capital, O&M, and fuel costs; interest rates; construction time; heat rates; taxes; depreciation; and capacity factors. Power LCAT is targeted at helping policy makers, students, and interested stakeholders understand the economic and environmental tradeoffs associated with various electricity production options.
Authors: Justin Adder, Thomas E. Drennen, Joel Andruski
Date: May, 2012

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LCA: Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) Power Plant
LCA of an Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle plant. Develops an Inventory of emissions results, and calculates Life Cycle costs for the plant with and without CCS.
Authors: Tim Skone, Laura Draucker, Raj Bhander, Barbara Bennet, Tom Davis, Robert Eckard, William Ellis, John Kauffman, James Littlefield, Amanda Malone, Ron Munson, Mara Nippert, Massood Ramezan, Roxanne Bromiley
Date: March, 2012

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LCA of Natural Gas Extraction, Delivery and Electricity Production
This is a life cycle inventory of greenhouse gases from natural gas power systems. The average greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from natural gas power are 527 kg of carbon dioxide equivalents per MWh of delivered electricity.  Data uncertainty include emission factors for natural gas extraction, natural gas pipeline parameters, and well production rates. Opportunities for reducing GHG emissions from natural gas extraction and delivery include better practices for unconventional gas well completions, improved compressor efficiency, and reduced pipeline fugitive emissions.
Authors: Tim Skone, Joe Marriott, PhD, James Littlefield
Date: January, 2012

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Calculating Uncertainty in Biomass Emissions
The Calculating Uncertainty in Biomass Emissions model, version 2.0 (CUBE 2.0) determines the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of biomass feedstocks from planting the biomass to delivery to the bioenergy plant gate. It includes emissions associated with feedstock production, transportation, and processing.  Model results and implications will be discussed in a forthcoming paper by these same authors and are therefore not presented in this document.
Authors: Tim Skone, Aimee E. Curtright, Henry H. Willis, David R. Johnson, David S. Ortiz, Nicholas Burger, Constantine Samaras, Aviva Litovitz, James McGee
Date: November, 2011

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Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Inventory of Natural Gas Extraction, Delivery, and Electricity Production
This greenhouse gas (GHG) analysis inventories six different sources of natural gas, including three types of unconventional gas, combines them into a domestic mix, and then compares the inventory on both a delivered feedstock and delivered electricity basis to a similar domestic mix of coal. On a delivered power basis, natural gas has lower GHG emissions that coal. With methane comprising 75-to-95 percent of the composition of natural gas, there are many opportunities for reducing the climate change impact associated with direct venting of natural gas.
Authors: Tim Skone, James Littlefield and Joe Marriott, PhD
Date: October, 2011

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Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Analysis of Advanced Jet Propulsion Fuels: Fischer Tropsch Based SPK-1 Case Study
In response to the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), NETL conducted a LCA (LCA) of 10 fuel production pathways using Fischer-Tropsch synthesis. These pathways use varying combinations of coal and swithgrass feedstocks and two options for carbon managment (sequestration or enhanced oil recovery). Only greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are inventoried. Comparative analysis of the results demonstrate that higher percentages of biomass result in lower life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions when using switchgrass. The choice of carbon management strategy has an effect on the results.
Authors: Tim Skone
Date: September, 2011

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LCA: Ethanol from Biomass
This is a life cycle environmental and cost analysis of ethanol using starch and cellulosic feedstocks. It provides a life cycle comparison of three tiers of technology, three types of biomass feedstocks, and two fuel-blending compositions for a total of 18 distinct pathways. When ethanol is blended with gasoline at an 85/15 ratio between ethanol and gasoline, the life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are highly variable due to different feedstock types and ethanol production technologies. The biochemical chemical conversion of cellulosic feedstocks to ethanol has the lowest GHG emissions in this analysis, because of the energy recovered at the ethanol plant.
Authors: Tim Skone, James Littlefield, Gurbakhash Bhander, Tom Davis, Robert Eckard, John Haslbeck, Maura Nippert, Robert Wallace, Joe Marriott, PhD
Date: August, 2011

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Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Analysis of Natural Gas Extraction and Delivery in the United States
On May 12, 2011, NETL provided the following presentation at the Cornell University lecture series on unconventional natural gas development. The presentation summarizes the life cycle analysis (LCA) greenhouse gas (GHG) research on natural gas extraction and delivery in the United States (on a lb CO2e/MMBtu basis) and a comparison of the life cycle GHG profiles of average natural gas and coal-fired power production and delivery to an end-user (lb CO2e/MWh basis). Specifically, the presentation details seven natural gas profiles: onshore conventional gas, associated gas, offshore gas, tight sands (gas), shale gas (based on Barnett Shale), coal bed methane gas, and the year 2009 domestic average mix. Each natural gas source is upgraded in a gas processing plant, compressed, and delivered to a large end-user (e.g., power plant).
Authors: Tim Skone, Joe Marriott, PhD, James Littlefield
Date: May, 2011

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LCA: Power Studies Compilation
Develops an inventory of emissions results, and calculates life cycle costs for each plant with and without CCS.
Authors: Robert James
Date: October, 2010

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LCA: Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) Power Plant (Archived 2010)
This is a life cycle environmental and cost profile of Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) power using Illinois No. 6 coal as a feedstock. Scenarios with and without carbon capture and sequestration are evaluated. The capture and sequestration of 90 percent of power plant carbon reduces life cycle greenhouse gas emissions from 948 to 218 kg of carbon dioxide equivalents per MWh of delivered electricity (a 77 percent decrease) and increases the life cycle cost of power from $120 to $160 per MWh (a 33 percent increase).
Authors: Robert James, Laura Draucker, Raj Bhander, Barbara Bennet, Tom Davis, Robert Eckard, William Ellis, John Kauffman, James Littlefield, Amanda Malone, Ron Munson, Mara Nippert, Massood Ramezan, Roxanne Bromiley
Date: September, 2010

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An Assessment of Gate-to-Gate Environmental Life Cycle Performance of Water-Alternating-Gas CO2-Enhanced Oil Recovery in the Permian Basin
CO2-enhanced oil recovery (CO2-EOR) stimulates oil production while storing a portion of the injected CO2. Life cycle assessment was performed for three CO2-EOR scenarios to estimate the "gate-to-gate" greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with water-alternating-gas injection in a typical Permian Basin reservoir. Current CO2-EOR "best practices" generate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of 71 kg CO2 equivalents (CO2E) per barrel of oil extracted - approximately three times greater than GHG emissions for the average barrel of domestic oil extracted in 2005.
Authors: Robert Dilmore
Date: September, 2010

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LCA: Natural Gas Combined Cycle (NGCC) Power Plant (Archived 2010)
This is a life cycle environmental and cost profile of a combined cycle natural gas power plant with scenarios using domestic natural gas or imported liquefied natural gas (LNG). Scenarios with and without carbon capture and sequestration are evaluated. Carbon capture removes 90 percent of the CO2 emissions from the natural gas combined cycle facility, but reduces life cycle greenhouse gas emissions by 61-to-71 percent. The results are sensitive to the source of natural gas due to the methane emissions during natural gas extraction and the added energy requirements of LNG transport. Adding carbon capture and sequestration increase the cost of electricity from $90 to $130 per MWh.
Authors: Robert James, Laura Draucker, Raj Bhander, Barbara Bennet, Tom Davis, Robert Eckard, William Ellis, John Kauffman, James Littlefield, Amanda Malone, Ron Munson, Mara Nippert, Massood Ramezan
Date: September, 2010

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LCA: Existing Pulverized Coal (EXPC) Power Plant
This is a life cycle environmental and cost profile of existing pulverized coal power using Illinois No. 6 coal as a feedstock. Scenarios with and without carbon capture and sequestration are evaluated. The capture and sequestration of 90 percent of power plant carbon reduces life cycle greenhouse gas emissions from 1,109 to 444 kg of carbon dioxide equivalents per MWh of delivered electricity (a 60 percent decrease) and increases the life cycle cost of power from $28 to $125 per MWh (a 350 percent increase).
Authors: Robert James, James Littlefield, Raj Bhander, Barbara Bennet, Tom Davis, Laura Draucker, Robert Eckard, William Ellis, John Kauffman, Amanda Malone, Ron Munson, Mara Nippert, Massood Ramezan, Roxanne Bromiley
Date: September, 2010

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LCA: Supercritical Pulverized Coal (SCPC) Power Plant
This is a life cycle environmental and cost profile of Supercritical Pulverized Coal (SCPC) power using Illinois No. 6 coal as a feedstock. Scenarios with and without  carbon capture and sequestration are evaluated.  The capture and sequestration of 90 percent of power plant carbon reduces life cycle greenhouse gas emissions from 944 to 247 kg of carbon dioxide equivalents per MWh of delivered electricity (a 74 percent decrease) and increases the life cycle cost of power from $94.3 to $16.3 per MWh (a 73 percent increase).
Authors: Robert James, Laura Draucker, Raj Bhander, Barbara Bennet, Tom Davis, Robert Eckard, William Ellis, John Kauffman, James Littlefield, Amanda Malone, Ron Munson, Mara Nippert, Massood Ramezan, Roxanne Bromiley
Date: September, 2010

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Progress Update: Interagency Workgroup on Life Cycle GHG Emissions of Alternative Aviation Fuels
This presentation covers efforts to examine life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of alternative aviation fuels, as led by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory with the support of a multi-disciplinary group of federal, industrial, academic institutions. The primary objective of the workgroup is to develop a set of standard guidance on how to evaluate the life cycle GHG footprint of various alternative jet fuel production pathways using a wide-range of feedstock sources. Application of the guidelines can be used by fuel suppliers, military, and commercial airlines to assess the environmental preferability of a specific fuel production pathway when compared to conventional jet fuel. Workgroup activity status and plans for testing on specific case studies are also discussed.
Authors: Tim Skone
Date: February, 2010

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Calculating Uncertainty in Biomass Emissions
The Calculating Uncertainty in Biomass Emissions model, version 1.0 (CUBE 1.0) determines the life cycle GHG emissions of biomass feedstocks from planting the biomass to delivery to the bioenergy plant gate ("farm-to-gate"). Included are emissions associated with feedstock production, transportation, and processing. The feedstocks in CUBE 1.0 include three dedicated energy crops (corn grain, switchgrass, and mixed prairie biomass) and two biomass residues (forest residue and mill residue). The report describes model layout and function. A free Analytica player for viewing and using this model can be downloaded from Lumina Decision Systems at: http://www.lumina.com/ana/player.htm.
Authors: Tim Skone, Aimee E. Curtright, Henry H. Willis, David R. Johnson, David S. Ortiz, Nicholas Burger,Constantine Samaras
Date: January, 2010

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NETL Petroleum-Based Fuels Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Analysis 2005 Baseline Model
This is a life cycle greenhouse gas model of petroleum fuels. It is representative of U.S. refinery operations using a mix of domestic and imported crude oil. Refinery energy and emissions are allocated to individual refinery products using the volumetric throughput and hydrogen consumption of key unit operations within a petroleum refinery. Results are calculated in terms of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) per million Btu (MMBtu) of fuel consumed.
Authors: Chris Nichols
Date: November, 2009

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Framework and Guidance for Estimating Greenhouse Gas Footprints of Aviation Fuels
Federal policies, such as those outlined in Section 526 of EISA 2007, cause federal agencies to institute enforceable guidelines for procuring low carbon alternative fuels. This report provides guidance on how to estimate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in aviation applications. This guidance is based on collaboration among the U.S. Air Force, government agencies, universities, and companies that are actively engaged in assessing GHG emissions from transportation fuels.
Authors: Chris Nichols, David T. Allen, Charles Allport, Kristopher Atkins, Joyce S. Cooper, Robert M. Dilmore, Laura C. Drauker, Kenneth E. Eickmann, Jeffrey C. Gillen, Warren Gillette, W. M. Griffin, William E. Harrison III, James I. Hileman, John R. Ingham, Fred A. Kimler III, Aaron Levy, Cynthia F. Murphy, Michael J. O'Donnell, David Pamplin, Greg Schively, Tim Skone, Shannon M. Strank, Russell W. Stratton, Philip H. Taylor, Valerie M. Thomas, Michael Q. Wang, Thomas Zidow
Date: April, 2009

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Balancing Climate Change, Energy Security, and Economic Sustainability: A Life Cycle Comparison of Diesel Fuel from Crude Oil and Domestic Coal and Biomass Resources
Brief 4-page summary of the near-term benefits of co-gasifying U.S. coal and biomass resources to produce FT diesel; a domestic transportation fuel. The paper summarizes the climate change, energy security, and economic benefits when compared to conventional diesel fuel production from domestic and imported crude oil.
Authors: Chris Nichols, Tim Skone, Kristin Gerdes, Tom Tarka, John Wimer
Date: April, 2009

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An Evaluation of the Extraction, Transport, and Refining of Imported Crude Oils and the Impact on Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions
The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) has analyzed the full life cycle greenhouse gas (greenhouse gas) emissions of transportation fuels derived from domestic crude oil and crude oil imported from specific countries. This analysis reveals that producing diesel fuel from imported crude oil results in well-to-tank greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that are, on average, 59 percent higher than diesel from domestic crude oil (21.4 vs. 13.5 kg CO2e per million Btu on a lower heating value basis). (Results are also presented for gasoline and jet fuel.) Differences among crude oil extraction practices have the greatest affect on the well-to-tank GHG emissions; there is less variation among the results of different scenarios due to refining and transport requirements.
Authors: Chris Nichols, Tim Skone, Kristin Gerdes
Date: March, 2009

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Consideration of Crude Oil Source in Evaluating Transportation Fuel GHG Emissions
NETL has analyzed the life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of transportation fuels (gasoline, diesel and jet fuel) for the baseline year 2005. Further analysis reveals that producing diesel from imported crude oil results in well-to-tank GHG emissions that are, on average, 59% higher than from domestic crude oil. Imported crude oils are on average heavier and contain higher levels of sulfur and the controls on venting and flaring during crude oil production are not as good as in domestic operations. This report provides a brief summary of methodology and results of these two analyses.
Authors: Chris Nichols, Tim Skone, Kristin Gerdes
Date: March, 2009

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NETLs Capability to Compare Transportation Fuels: GHG Emissions and Energy Security Impacts
Describes the methodology behind the well-to-tank greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions estimate for U.S. petroleum diesel of 18.4 kg CO2E/MMBtu fuel delivered to the vehicle, lower heating value (LHV) basis. This is the average for the United States in 2005. Presents additional analysis that reveals that producing diesel from imported crude oil results in well-to-tank GHG emissions that are, on average, 59% higher than from domestic crude oil.
Authors: Chris Nichols, Kristin Gerdes
Date: February, 2009

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Development of Baseline Data and Analysis of Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Petroleum-Based Fuels: Report and Model
This analysis shows results from NETL's life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) model of petroleum-based fuels. It is representative of U.S. refinery operations using a mix of domestic and imported crude oil. Results are expressed in terms of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) per million Btu (MMBtu) of fuel consumed. The total well-to-wheel GHG emissions from gasoline 96.3, 95.0, and 92.9 kg CO2e/MMBtu for gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel, respectively.
Authors: Chris Nichols, Tim Skone, Kristin Gerdes
Date: November, 2008

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LCA of Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Hydrogen Fuel Production in the USA from LNG and Coal
This is a LCA (LCA) that accounts for the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the production of hydrogen from liquefied natural gas (LNG) via steam methane reforming (SMR) or from coal gasification. Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) is one option for managing carbon dioxide emissions from hydrogen production.  By employing a CCS system with a 92 percent capture rate at an SMR plant, the life cycle GHG emissions from hydrogen production from LNG are reduced by 64 percent. Gasification of coal is another pathway to hydrogen production, but the GHG emissions are highly variable due to coal mine methane (CMM) emissions. Mitigation of CMM is a key opportunity for improving GHG emissions from the the coal-to-hydrogen pathway.
Authors: Eric Grol, Massood Ramezan, John Ruether
Date: November, 2005

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