17 research outputs found

    On the design of a European bioeconomy that optimally contributes to sustainable development

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    The inevitability for a change in humankind's resource and fossil energy consumption is demonstrated by global crises such as the climate change, disturbances of natural cycles, and the loss of biodiversity. The sun provides sufficient energy to generate electricity and by photosynthesis, solar radiation is converted into energy chemically bound in biomolecules, which provide building blocks for the production of various materials, chemicals, or fuels. The bioeconomy puts biomass at the center of an economy that attempts to cover resource and energy demand by renewable materials to address the global challenges. However, the finiteness of the terrestrial surface limits renewables, requiring a prioritization of use. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a common ground for global peace, prosperity, improved health and education, reduced inequality, and spur economic growth while tackling climate change and biodiversity loss, making it the most comprehensive framework for defining objectives in the design of the bioeconomy. Against this background, this dissertation is particularly dedicated to the design of bioeconomic value chains based on agroforestry residues in the European Union, considering economic, environmental, and social objectives to optimally exploit the potential to contribute to a sustainable development. All objectives are matched to SDGs to unveil congruencies, conflicts and trade-offs between different goals, and to provide aggregated insights and courses of action in the agroforestry residue-based bioeconomy to politics, the scientific community, and corporate decision-makers. The availability of agroforestry residue volumes and their current uses is the first major concern of a bioeconomy aligned with the SDGs to be assessed in this work. Key findings are that the most promising agricultural residue in the EU is wheat straw, followed by maize stover, barley straw, and rapeseed straw, which together account for about 80% of EU’s cereals and oil crops residues. In forestry, waste bark from the two coniferous species, spruce and pine, are most promising with the highest supplies in Scandinavia and central EU. The time-series-based forecast model predicts a total increase of the bioeconomic potential of the prioritized agricultural feedstocks from 113 Mt in 2017 to 127 Mt in 2030. The forecast indicates the largest increase of all investigated crops for corn stover at up to 20% until 2030, while rapeseed straw production is forecasted to decrease in many regions. To take environmental and social aspects into account on a regional level, along with international competitiveness, this dissertation develops a multi-criteria strategic network design model for the planning of bioeconomic value chains. The environmental and social objectives are derived by means of Life Cycle Assessment and Social Life Cycle Assessment, respectively. The developed set of 35 economic, environmental, and social objective functions allows for the consideration of 16 of the 17 SDGs. The model is applied for the planning of a second-generation bioethanol production network based on agricultural residues in the EU. Single-criteria optimization shows that sustainably available agroforestry residues could substitute up to 22% of the petrol demand in the EU in 2018 under optimal production networks for certain objectives (i.a., global warming). For environmental objectives, the decision to substitute petrol or edible crops-based ethanol has the highest impact. The greenhouse gas benefits could amount to up to 59 Mt CO2 eq., conforming to about 1.35% of the EU’s 2018 total emissions. However, global warming optimization leads to opportunity costs for other objectives. While for ecosystem quality, for example, the achieved value reaches 50% of its optimum, other categories like land use and water consumption could even be net deteriorated by optimizing global warming. For objectives such as land use, only 19% of the total agroforestry residues is used to substitute 100% of the edible crops-based ethanol, which would free up 11.7 billion m2 crop land. Social objectives lead to large and labor-intensive production networks distributed all over the EU. Depending on the social objective, the value creation slightly shifts regionally. To optimize local employment, the network relocates to regions with high unemployment rates, such as Spain, Italy, and parts of France. Economically strong metropolitan regions are at a disadvantage in favor of weaker regions of Central and Eastern EU when optimizing economic development. At best, up to 140,000 new jobs could be created in the EU while 12,000 jobs could be lost due to substitution of reference products. In terms of network extend, most socially and environmentally optimal production networks are similar, although the substitution decision has little impact for social objectives. This means that interesting trade-offs between social and environmental objectives can be found with only minor sacrifices. Economically optimal networks are much smaller and more centralized than environmental ones, and lead to costs of about 0.75 €/l second-generation ethanol. Environmental optimization results in cost between 0.88 €/l to 2.00 €/l, which implies that large-scale bioethanol production is not economically feasible with today’s oil prices and taxes. While the single-criteria optimization reveals conflicts within and between the environment, social, and economic dimensions, Pareto optimization is conducted to unveil trade-offs between conflicting goals. Significant environmental and social benefits can often be realized with only small economic detriments, and vice versa, economic profitability can substantially be improved at low environmental opportunity cost. Furthermore, the applied Pareto optimization shows that the endpoints human health and ecosystem quality are suitable aggregators of environmental impact categories, wherefore they could serve as representative of the environmental dimension in decision-making. Nonetheless, a transparent consideration of a broad range of impacts and knowledge about the categories’ contributions remains indispensable to reveal possible negative consequences of a decision. In a final step, the objective functions are matched to SDGs, and opportunity cost between the objective functions are calculated to unveil congruencies and conflicts between different goals. The assessment of relationships between the different SDGs supports the perception that different aspects of sustainability are not equally directed. Sustainability, expressed by the SDGs, is rather case-specific and varies between a multitude of interdependent social, environmental, and economic criteria. Decision-makers, whether at the corporate level pursuing one or more business objectives or at the policy level, using the SDGs as a framework, should be aware of the reciprocities between the different criteria. The dissertation shows that the European bioeconomy has a great potential to contribute to sustainable development. Multi-criteria optimization models enable sound trade-off decisions that are aligned to the SDGs

    Multicriteria optimization as enabler for Sustainable Ceramic Matrix Composites (SCMC)

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    Please click Additional Files below to see the full abstract. Please click Download on the upper right corner to see the presentation

    Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment of a Novel Bio-Based Multilayer Panel for Construction Applications

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    The bioeconomy can be integral to transforming the current economic system into one with reduced environmental and social impacts of material consumption. This work describes a bio-based multi-layer panel that is based on residual coniferous bark. To ensure that the presented bio-based panel positively contributes to environmental protection while remaining competitive with conventional products and meeting high social standards, the development of the panel is accompanied by a life cycle sustainability assessment. This study performs a comparative LCA and LCC of the developed panel to conventional benchmark panels, as well as a qualitative social life cycle assessment. While the panel performs only economically marginally weaker than the benchmarks, the results are more heterogeneous for the environmental dimension with benefits of the bio-based panel in categories such as climate change, acidification, and ozone formation and detriments in categories including eutrophication. The S-LCA analysis shows that all of the involved companies apply social principles in direct proximity; however, social responsibility along the supply chain could be further promoted. All results need to be viewed with the caveat that the manufacturing processes for the new panel have been implemented, to date, on a pilot scale and further improvements need to be achieved in terms of upscaling and optimisation cycles.The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement number 723670, with the title “Systemic approach to reduce energy demand and CO2 emissions of processes that transform agroforestry waste into high added value products (REHAP)”

    Influence of ecological optimized manufacturing on the production costs of C/C structures using CVI technology

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    Environmental benefits of large‐scale second‐generation bioethanol production in the EU: an integrated supply chain network optimization and life cycle assessment approach

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    The use of agricultural residues for the generation of bioethanol has the potential to substitute fuels such as petrol or first‐generation bioethanol and thereby generate environmental benefits. Scientific research in this field typically confines the environmental dimension to global warming, disregarding other environmental impact and damage categories. By multi‐criteria mixed‐integer linear programming, this work examines environmental benefits and economic viability of optimal second‐generation bioethanol production network configurations to substitute petrol and/or first‐generation bioethanol in the EU. The results comprise environmentally optimal decisions for 18 impact and 3 damage categories, as well as economically optimal solutions for different excise and carbon tax scenarios. The impact categories global warming potential, particulate matter, and land use are affected the most. Optimal network decisions for different environmental objectives can be clustered into three groups of mutual congruencies, but opportunity costs between the different groups can be very high, indicating conflicting decisions. The decision to substitute petrol or first‐generation ethanol has the greatest influence. The results of the multi‐dimensional analysis suggest that the damage categories human health and ecosystem quality are suitable to unveil tradeoffs between conflicting environmental impacts, for example, global warming and land use. Taking human health and ecosystem quality as environmental decision criteria, second‐generation bioethanol should be used to concurrently substitute first‐generation bioethanol and petrol (100% and 18% of today's demand in the EU, respectively). However, economic optimization shows that with current taxation, bioethanol is hardly competitive with petrol, and that excise tax abatement or carbon taxes are needed to achieve these volumes. This article met the requirements for a gold‐gold JIE data openness badge described at http://jie.click/badges.Horizon 2020 Framework Programme http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/10001066

    Biomass forecasting

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    Spatially explicit forecast of feedstock potentials for second generation bioconversion industry from the EU agricultural sector until the year 2030

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    Second generation bioconversion industry is a driver towards the post-petroleum age where materials and fuels are made of renewable resources. Agricultural residues are a promising feedstock source for emerging bioeconomic concepts. Research on the forecasting of feedstock potentials is still scarce and available methodologies are not harmonised. Biomass markets are characterised by their regionality, which requires regionalised assessments and forecasting of feedstock potentials. This work dealt with the question of the variables that determine the future development of agricultural harvesting residues. It further examines methodologies allowing a spatially explicit prediction of feedstock potentials. The forecasting approach was applied to wheat straw, corn stover, barley straw, and rapeseed straw, which together account for 80 per cent of cereals and oil crops harvesting residues in the European Union. The results indicate the largest increase of all investigated crops was for corn stover at up to 20 per cent between 2017 and 2030. Barley straw potentials are expected to stay rather constant within the coming decade. Rapeseed is the only crop likely to face a decreasing production in many regions in the coming years. This work identified increasing crop yields as the main driver for advancing feedstock potentials. Especially Central and Eastern European countries show high growth rates. The methodology of the research work contributes to the discussions about sustainable resource potentials of the European bioeconomy. The forecasting results can be used for strategic decision-making in emerging bioconversion concepts

    Assessment of agroforestry residue potentials for the bioeconomy in the European Union

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    The biobased chemical industry is characterised by strong growth. Innovative products and materials such as biopolymers have been developed, and current European demand for biopolymers exceeds the domestic supply. Agroforestry residues can serve as main sources of the basic building blocks for chemicals and materials. This work assesses sustainably available agroforestry residues to feed a high added-value materials and product bioeconomy. To evaluate bioeconomic potential, a structured threestep approach is applied. Cultivation practices, sustainability issues, legislative restrictions, technical limitations and competitive applications are considered. All data regarding bioeconomic potential are processed on a regional level and mapped by ArcGIS. Our results identify wheat straw as the most promising source in the agricultural sector, followed by maize stover, barley straw and rape straw, which all contain a total concentration of lignocellulose of more than 80% of dry matter. In the forestry sector, residue bark from two coniferous species, spruce and pine, is the most promising source, with approximately 70% lignocellulose. Additionally, coniferous bark contains considerable amounts of tannin, which has attracted increasing interest for industrial utilisation. A sensitivity analysis concerning removal rates, residue-to-crop ratios, changes in farming technologies and competing applications is applied at the end of the study to consolidate our results
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