Life Cycle Costs and Life Cycle Assessment for the Harvesting, Conversion, and the Use of Switchgrass to Produce Electricity
Achenie, Luke E. K.
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This paper considers both LCA and LCC of the pyrolysis of switchgrass to use as an energy source in a conventional power plant. The process consists of cultivation, harvesting, transportation, storage, pyrolysis, transportation, and power generation. Here pyrolysis oil is converted to electric power through cocombustion in conventional fossil fuel power plants. Several scenarios are conducted to determine the effect of selected design variables on the production of pyrolysis oil and type of conventional power plants. The set of design variables consist of land fraction, land shape, the distance needed to transport switchgrass to the pyrolysis plant, the distance needed to transport pyrolysis oil to electric generation plant, and the pyrolysis plant capacity. Using an average agriculture land fraction of the United States at 0.4, the estimated cost of electricity from pyrolysis of 5000 tons of switchgrass is the lowest at $0.12 per kwh. Using natural gas turbine power plant for electricity generation, the price of electricity can go as low as 7.70 cent/kwh. The main advantage in using a pyrolysis plant is the negative GHG emission from the process which can define that the process is environmentally friendly.