Servicio de Información Comunitario sobre Investigación y Desarrollo - CORDIS

WP(10) Life cycle analysis of energy wood production and utilisation

Energy wood includes all types of biofuels derived directly and indirectly from trees and shrubs grown in forest and non-forest lands, as biomass derived from civilcultural activities as well as industrial by-products derived from primary and secondary forest industries.
- Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) is a grandle-to-grave approach for assessing industrial systems.
- LCA enables the estimation of cumulative environmental impacts resulting from all stages in the product life.
- In the frame of this study an LCA of energy wood chain has been chosen.
- The system boundary of the LCA has been defined from the collection of recovered wood, to preparation, transportation and finally combustion of the wood fuel.
- The functional unit was set to 1 MWhth produced from a defined categories of energy wood, such as recovered wood, clean wood and coal / lignite.

- The Life Cycle Analysis of the energy wood chain has shown that the benefits in the global warming impact category are the most important result by the combustion of wood for energy utilization, while the whole process, from the collection till the combustion of wood, imposes the most negative influence on the impact category of acidification, followed by the eutrophication and the human toxicity.
- In addition, the use of wood for energy production reduces almost 0.1 kg SO2 eq. per produced MWhth, compared to the production of the same amount of energy by burning diesel oil.
- In the impact category of eutrophication the dominant pollutants are nitrogen oxides (NOx).
- Concerning the human health, heavy metals, benzol and dioxine/furans are the dominant components.
- The contribution of the emissions during the collection of energy wood in urban areas is the dominant stage concerning air pollution.
- The traffic conditions in urban areas, as well as the continuously starting and stopping of the tractors for the collection of energy wood results in increased fuel consumption.
- This causes increased pollution levels compared to driving in a highway.

Key innovative features of the result:
- The extensive use of recovered wood can stimulate the market and create a significant number of permanent jobs, especially in rural areas.
- For an extensive use of energy wood it is necessary to create a whole chain which includes selection, preparation, transportation and finally combustion of the wood fuels.
- All these intermediate stages of wood utilization for energy purposes are connected with consumption of energy and materials, or in other words are connected with pressure on the environment.
- As environmental awareness increases, industries and businesses have started to assess how their activities affect the environment.
- Society has become concerned about the issues of natural resource depletion and environmental degradation.

Use potential:
- The annual amount of recovered wood in the European Union countries is estimated to be 50-100 million tons.
- This amount of recovered wood can be reused, used as raw material in wood processing industries, or disposed in sanitary landfills.
- At the same time, this amount has an energy content of about 750-1.350 PJ, depended on its moisture content.
- Thus, the use of recovered wood for energy production could contribute significantly to two major policy goals of the European Union.
- On the one hand, such use would contribute to doubling the share of renewable energy in the
- European primary energy supply to 12% by 2010 and on the other hand, being virtually CO2 neutral energy source, it would help meet the reduction of EU-GHG emissions as declared in the Kyoto protocol.

Expected benefits.
- The environmental benefits of the substitution diesel with energy wood are about 3x102 kg-CO2 eq. per produced MWhth.
- In contrasts, the substitution of diesel fuel consist to the increase of other emissions such as carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4).
- The use of low-NOx burners, the optimization of the combustion conditions as well as the use of advanced combustion systems such as fluidized beds, can contribute significantly to the reduction of NOx emissions.
- The use of hybrid cars or cars driving by electricity could be an effective solution for the reduction of both emissions and noise level during the process of energy wood collection.

Current status:
- The LCA analysis method is operational and it is used widely in different areas.

- Dissemination of the results have been carried out by 1) Using Echaine web-page, 2) Partners presentations at two by Echaine organised international workshops (Bulgaria and Russia), 3) Partners presentations at national and international seminars and workshops, 4) Scientific papers.

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