Environmental sustainability assessment of an ethylene oxide production process through Cumulative Exergy Demand and ReCiPe

Ali Ghannadzadeh, Alireza Meymivand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

The environmental burdens of the ethylene oxide production processes are becoming more and more important due to the release of very harmful chemical components as well as its high-energy demand. One way to moderate its environmental burdens within the energy transition period is the natural gas/biomass-based scenarios. However, this Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study reports that natural gas is not a right alternative for this special case, where natural gas-based scenarios are less sustainable than the residual fuel oil-based scenarios particularly concerning fossil depletion (93%), freshwater ecotoxicity (76%), marine ecotoxicity (59%), human ecotoxicity (53%), terrestrial acidification (51%) and particulate matter formation (40%). On the other hand, the LCA study shows that without revamping the heart of the process technology, the reduction in the environmental burdens is possible through biomass. The biomass-based scenarios reduce the burdens from 4.40 to 4.36 MJ (equivalent of non-renewables) according to Cumulative Exergy Demand or from 2.18E-04 to 1.85E-04 (dimensionless normalized results) in accordance with ReCiPe, preparing the way to a sustainable ethylene oxide process within the energy transition period where revamping the heart of the process technology is not desired. Graphic abstract

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1765-1777
Number of pages13
JournalClean Technologies and Environmental Policy
Volume21
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019

Keywords

  • Energy transition
  • Ethylene oxide
  • Exergy
  • Life Cycle Assessment
  • Monte Carlo simulation
  • Process design

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