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Selected Publication:

Krexner, T; Bauer, A; Zollitsch, W; Weiland, K; Bismarck, A; Gronauer, A; Kral, I.
(2022): Environmental life cycle assessment of nano-cellulose and biogas production from manure
J ENVIRON MANAGE. 2022; 314, 115093 FullText FullText_BOKU

Due to its unique properties, nano fibrillated cellulose (NFC) has been a popular topic of research in recent years. Nevertheless, literature assessing environmental impacts of NFC production is scarce, especially for using other starting materials than wood pulp. Hence, in this study, a new approach of cascaded use of manure to produce biogas and subsequently use the cellulose containing digestate for NFC production (manure scenario) is compared to the production from Kraft pulp from hardwood chips (wood chips scenario) via life cycle assessment (LCA). To produce comparable outputs (NFC and biogas) in both scenarios a typical Austrian biogas plant with maize silage and pig slurry as input material is included in the wood chips scenario. A proxy approach is used to upscale the manure scenario from laboratory to an industrial scale (except for the pulp to NFC step) to ensure comparability of both scenarios. The impact categories global warming potential (GWP), fossil resource scarcity, freshwater eutrophication, human toxicity, terrestrial acidification (TAP) and terrestrial ecotoxicity potential are analysed referring to the functional unit of 1 kg NFC. Results show that the manure scenario has at least 45% lower impacts in all assessed categories. GWP is 4.41 kg CO2 eq./kg NFC in the manure and 9.74 kg CO2 eq./kg NFC in the wood chips scenario. The transformation step from pulp to NFC is identified as environmental hotspot due to the high electricity demand in both scenarios. Results are additionally assessed only for the industrial scale part (includes biogas and pulp production). In the latter the main difference can be found in the substrate production. While it plays a subordinate role in the manure scenario (up to 8%) as manure is seen as a waste stream with no upstream environmental impacts attached, the production of maize silage is one of the hotspots in the industrial part in the wood chips scenario. This difference is especially prominent in TAP, where the substrate production is responsible for 91% of the 0.06 kg SO2 eq. impact, which is tenfold the impact of the manure scenario. This underlines the issue of using energy crops as substrate in biogas plants. It also highlights the importance of further research of using waste streams as inputs for the electricity production and subsequent use in the pulp and paper industry. This LCA demonstrates that NFC production from manure is a sustainable alternative to the production from hardwood Kraft pulp.
Authors BOKU Wien:
Bauer Alexander
Gronauer Andreas
Kral Iris
Krexner Theresa
Weiland Kathrin Maria
Zollitsch Werner

Find related publications in this database (Keywords)
Life cycle assessment
Kraft pulp
Fermentation residue

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