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Major Environmental Benefits

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- An innovative approach to reducing and sequestering greenhouse gases

One Arkenol biorefinery provides 8.97 million tons of CO2 emissions reductions over its project life when compared to gasoline (1)

- Improved air quality from avoidance of open burning of waste residues

e.g. Avoidance of open-field burning of about 140,000 tons of rice straw results in annual net emissions reductions of 280 tons of NOx, 173 tons of PM10, 130 tons of VOC, 138 tons of S02 and 4,988 tons of CO.

- Production of cleaner-burning transportation fuel from closed-loop carbon cycle sources

- Diversion of materials from landfills conserving finite spaces and avoiding greenhouse gas emissions from anaerobic digestion

A biorefinery utilizing 450 tons per day of biomass will use, on an annual basis, feedstock equivalent to a building over 60 stories high avoiding methane gas emissions of 34,217 tons per year. (2)

- New uses for agricultural and forest waste materials

- Preservation of natural resources through a process designed for near zero discharge

- Biobased chemicals with low toxicity and biodegrade rapidly as alternatives to petrochemicals

- A sustainable development promoting the carbohydrate economy


(1) A model developed by Mark A. Delucchi was used by the US DOE to compare and contrast greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) for gasoline and ethanol in light duty vehicles (See Table D-4, USDOE/PO-0042, Assessment of Costs and Benefits of Flexible and Alternative Fuel Use in the US Transportation Sector, January 1996.). Total GHG emissions for gasoline including vehicle operations, fule production and distribution, and vehicle manufacture is given as 13,404.5 grams CO2 equivalent per gallon gasoline. The production and use of ethanol produced using cellulosic feedstocks results in the total GHG emissions of 1,444.4 CO2 per gallon gasoline.

GHG reductions from typical Arkenol biorefinery production of 15,000,000 gallons/year x (13.404.5 - 1,444.5) is 1.79 x 1011 kg CO2 equivalent or 179,400,000 metric tons. In addition, other reductions may be calculated through the use of lignin co-product as a solid fuel to replace petroleum-derived thermal energy required for the facility. Therefore, over the lifetime of the project more than 50 x 179,400,000 or over 8.97 billion tons CO2 equivalent would be saved or sequestered through the development of one biorefinery.

(2) Assume MSW with bulk density of 7 pounds per cubic foot is used. On a daily basis, a biorefinery would require (450 x 2000 /7) or 129,000 cubic feet. This equates to an area the size of a football fiels (360 x 160 feet) covered to a depth of just over 2 feet. Taken over a year, the depth of the pile rises to 660 feet, equivalent to a building over 60 stories high. While this is an astounding figure, several waste-to-energy facilities sized at 2,000 tons/day (over 4 times greater) are in operation in major metropolitan centers worldwide. A 2,000 wet ton per day MSW-fed biorefinery would produce the equivalent of over 40 million gallons per year of ethanol without the stack emissions associated with burning waste for energy, almost 90% fewer residuals to landfill, more jobs, at lower capital expense.

Assume 80% conversion of biomass to CH4 by anaerobic digestion. 1 lb dry biomass / 5500 Btu x 23,861 Btu/lb CH4 = 4.34 lb dry biomass/lb CH4. 450 dyr tons/day x 330 days/year x 2000/2000 x 1 lb CH4 / 4.34 lb biomass = 34,216.59 CH4 / year. Because of its reactivity, CH4 is considered to have 20 times the impact of global warming than does CO2.

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Copyright © 1996 Arkenol, Inc.    Last modified: August 19, 1997 - MEC