Harmonized life cycle assessment of technologies for carbon capture and utilization

  • Harmonisierte Ökobilanzierung von Technologien zur $CO_{2}$ Abscheidung und Verwendung

Müller, Leonard Jan; Bardow, André (Thesis advisor); Koß, Hans-Jürgen (Thesis advisor); Sick, Volker (Thesis advisor)

1. Auflage. - Aachen : Mainz Verlag (2022)
Book, Dissertation / PhD Thesis

In: Aachener Beiträge zur technischen Thermodynamik 36
Page(s)/Article-Nr.: 1 Online-Ressource : Illustrationen , Diagramme

Dissertation, RWTH Aachen University, 2021


Carbon Capture and Utilization (CCU) is an emerging field proposed for GHG emissions mitigation and even negative emissions. These potential benefits need to be assessed by the holistic method of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) that accounts for multiple environmental impact categories over the entire life cycle of products or services. However, even though LCA is a standardized method, current LCA practice differs widely in methodological choices. The LCA results therefore strongly defer even for identical technologies, which reduces the ability to assess technologies. Applying LCA to CCU technologies leads to further specific methodological issues, e.g., due to the double role of CO2 as emission and feedstock. To enhance LCA’s ability to support decision-making, this thesis proposes to substantially reduce the space for methodological choices and, thus, the variability of LCA studies. For this purpose, an empirical literature analysis of current LCA practice reveals the major differences in LCA studies leading to differences in results. A harmonized LCA approach is developed in a collaborative process involving around 40 experts, building upon existing LCA standards and guidelines to narrow these differences. The presented approach can improve LCA studies’ comparability through clear methodological guidance and predefined assumptions on feedstock and utilities. Thereby, differences among studies can be reduced, comparability of results and LCA’s relevance for decision-support can be enhanced.The LCA approach’s is demonstrated in a large-scale industrial case study utilizing CO2 and renewable energies in the chemical industry. This case study shows how the proposed approach can also be combined with an economic assessment to determine the marginal greenhouse gas abatement costs and total production costs of the European chemical industry based on CO2 as carbon dioxide. The case study shows that up to 60 % of the European chemical industry’s emissions can be abated with abatement costs lower than the projected carbon price of 380 €2017 per ton CO2 eq in 2050. To realize these large-scale emission reductions, investments in research and development of CCU technologies are required, novel international trade alliances should be established, and corresponding climate policy needs to be adopted