Preliminary Life Cycle Assessment of Steelanol ethanol shows significant GHG savings can be achieved

Monday 21 May 2018

E4tech has completed the preliminary Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Steelanol ethanol produced at the ArcelorMittal plant in Ghent by the fermentation of blast- and basic oxygen furnace (BF/BOF) gases. The study aims to assess a range of environmental impacts from the production of Steelanol ethanol compared to conventional transport fuel, with a focus on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The LCA uses data from the detailed engineering plans for the plant, which is currently under construction, and an update with actual data is planned once the plant is operational.

The LCA not only demonstrates environmental impacts across a range of impact categories, but also endeavours to investigate the impacts that Steelanol ethanol production might have on the wider energy system. Currently, the BF/BOF gases are used for electricity generation at ArcelorMittal Ghent, and diverting part of this gas to ethanol production reduces electricity output. Estimating the impact of replacing this shortfall of electricity from other sources is far from trivial, however, careful analysis revealed that even when including the impact of replacing the no-longer-generated electricity in the final LCA results, Steelanol ethanol still provides significant GHG savings compared to petrol. GHG saving over FQD fossil fuel standard can be up to 87%  taking into account electricity displacement (with GWP grid mix  of 14.7 gCO2eq/MJ).

The study also discusses the implications of these results in the context of ongoing policy developments around ‘waste-based’ or ‘recycled carbon’ fuels.