A Life Cycle Assessment of Biomethane Production from Waste Feedstock Through Different Upgrading Technologies
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Energies 12 (4): 718 (2019)

Upgrading consists of a range of purification processes aimed at increasing the methane content of biogas to reach specifications similar to natural gas. In this perspective, an environmental assessment, based on the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) method, of different upgrading technologies is helpful to identify the environmental characteristics of biomethane and the critical steps for improvement. The aim of this work is to conduct an LCA of biomethane production from waste feedstock, using the SimaPro software. The study focuses on the comparison of several upgrading technologies (namely, membrane separation, cryogenic separation, pressure swing adsorption, chemical scrubbing, high pressure water scrubbing) and the on-site cogeneration of electricity and heat, including the environmental benefits deriving from the substitution of fossil-based products. The results show a better environmental performance of the cogeneration option in most of the impact categories. The Fossil resource scarcity is the impact category which is mainly benefited by the avoided production of natural gas, with savings of about 0.5 kg oil eq/m3 of biogas for all the investigated technologies, with an average improvement of about 76\% compared to conventional cogeneration. The results show that the membrane upgrading technology is slightly more environmentally convenient than the other upgrading technologies.
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