GLRPPR Sector Resource: Greenhouse Gas and Energy Life Cycle Assessment of Pine Chemicals Derived from Crude Tall Oil and their Substitutes
Greenhouse Gas and Energy Life Cycle Assessment of Pine Chemicals Derived from Crude Tall Oil and their Substitutes
Pine chemicals are co-products of the papermaking process and are upgraded into many diverse products such as adhesives, inks, rubber, paints, coatings, surfactants, oilfield chemicals, paper size, and fuel. This life cycle assessment (LCA), conducted according to ISO 14040/14044 standards, investigates the U.S., European, and global industry carbon and energy footprint of pine chemicals derived from crude tall oil (CTO). This study has three specific goals: 1) to determine the cradle-to-gate carbon and energy footprint for the production of pine-based chemicals derived from CTO, 2) to leverage the cradle-to-gate carbon and energy footprint of pine chemicals to develop comparative analyses between pine chemicals derived from CTO and their most likely substitutes for the primary end applications in which pine chemicals derived from CTO are used, and 3) to calculate the possible carbon and energy footprint effects of shifting all CTO resources from the current pine chemical production profile to 100% biodiesel production in Europe. Current and proposed U.S. and European government policies have resulted, or could result, in CTO being classified as renewable biomass for
energy production purposes; this can create incentives to convert CTO into a fuel rather than use it for production of pine chemicals. Assessments of the environmental impacts of such renewable fuel policies typically cover only greenhouse gases (GHGs), or in some cases energy savings; accordingly, this study only examines those two impact categories. Because the scope of this analysis is an assessment of energy and GHG impacts and does not cover other environmental impact categories, the study is not intended to be used as the basis for public claims or assertions about the overall comparative environmental performance of pine chemicals and alternatives. Only comparative statements relating to GHG and energy impacts are intended be made public based on the findings of this study.
The data used in the life cycle inventory model represent 100% of the U.S. CTO distillation industry and
approximately 90% of the European CTO distillation industry for the year 2011. Since the U.S. and Europe
distill the majority of CTO, U.S. and European findings are also used to develop profiles for global CTO distillation products. The baseline results for CTO-derived chemicals include an allocated portion of energy and GHG impacts for upstream forestry and kraft pulping operations, and do not include a credit for storage of biogenic carbon in the pine chemicals during their useful life. The study found that the baseline carbon footprint is 1,466 kilograms of carbon dioxide--equivalent (kg CO2 eq) per tonne of CTO distillation product for the U.S. and 740 kg CO2 eq per tonne of CTO distillation product for Europe. Most energy required for the production of CTO distillation products is renewable energy (81% to 86%), which is primarily biomass feedstock or biomass process energy. Globally, the weighted average pine chemical carbon footprint is approximately 50% lower than the most likely mix of pine chemical substitutes. Pine chemical substitutes with notably higher carbon footprints than the pine chemical they replace include hydrocarbon resins for rubber, ink, and adhesive end applications, along with alkyl succinic anhydride for paper size and heavy fuel oil #6 for fuel combustion. Similarly, the weighted average global pine chemical non-renewable energy footprint is approximately 57% lower than the most likely mix of pine chemical substitutes. In addition, by comparing the carbon footprint of European CTO biodiesel products to those of pine chemicals derived from CTO in Europe, the study found that differences in the carbon footprints of utilizing CTO for biodiesel versus utilizing CTO for pine chemicals are insignificant. Therefore, there is no carbon or energy footprint benefit that accrues by diverting CTO that is currently being used as a feedstock for pine chemicals to new biodiesel production in Europe.
For compliance with ISO 14044:2006 standards, this study has been peer-reviewed by an independent three-person panel of LCA experts. Its results offer important quantified information to public policymakers, operators of kraft pulping and recovery systems, manufacturers of pine chemicals, users of
pine chemicals, and other private and public stakeholders.
Franklin Associates; ACS Pine Chemistry Panel
Date of Publication: