(149e) Life Cycle Analysis Tools to Determine Environmental Footprint of Carbon Utilization Projects | AIChE

(149e) Life Cycle Analysis Tools to Determine Environmental Footprint of Carbon Utilization Projects


Moni, S. - Presenter, National Energy Technology Laboratory
Skone, T., National Energy Technology Laboratory
Carbon utilization can reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by transforming captured carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted from power and industrial sources into valuable products for various applications. Carbon dioxide utilization (CO2U) is an emerging research area that encompasses many possible pathways, including biological uptake, catalytic conversion, and mineralization. Consistent, unbiased, and detailed guidance is crucial for helping project developers assess and communicate the climate benefits of their technology to enable commercialization and acceptance of CO2-derived products in the marketplace. Life cycle assessment/analysis (LCA) can support the evaluation of the potential environmental impacts and net life cycle GHG reductions of CO2U technologies from a consistent and unbiased viewpoint. For emerging CO2U technologies, conducting LCA at early stages of development is important, as it allows flexibility to implement changes while technologies are still nascent. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the federal government are increasingly requiring LCA as part of funding for primary research and tax incentives such as “45Q” for CO2 utilization projects ((Treasury Regulations Section 1.45Q-4 (26 C.F.R. § 1.45Q-4), 2021).

In the interest of supporting the creation of useful and consistent LCAs of CO2U projects, the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) has developed a CO2U LCA Toolkit and recently released version 2.0. The NETL CO2U LCA Guidance Toolkit is intended to help the project principal investigators meet LCA requirements under the DOE Carbon Utilization Program and support program managers in decision-making by ensuring consistency and transparency across Carbon Utilization Program projects. The toolkit has also been used to guide a wider audience outside the Carbon Utilization Program in conducting LCAs on carbon utilization (CO2U) systems and advance the global discussion on CO2U LCA.

The toolkit comprises the NETL CO2U LCA guidance document, openLCA life cycle inventory database, openLCA results contribution tool, LCA documentation spreadsheet, LCA report template, and openLCA model training resources. Recently published version 2.0 includes, but is not limited to, updated LCA guidelines to reflect more CO2 sources, guidelines for inclusion of land use change impact, and other necessary updates. The associated tools were also updated to improve usability and knowledge transfer.

The guidance document should be considered a companion to the requirements established in ISO 14040/14044, providing specific guidance on methodological issues for scoping and completing the LCA. The guidance, data, and tools are publicly available and free. This presentation will provide an overview of each part of this updated LCA toolkit, its utility to the LCA community, and its value in assessing emerging technologies.


Treasury Regulations Section 1.45Q-4 (26 C.F.R. § 1.45Q-4) (2021). Retrieved from https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/td-9944.pdf on November 18, 2021


This project was funded by the Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory an agency of the United States Government, through a support contract. Neither the United States Government nor any agency thereof, nor any of its employees, nor the support contractor, nor any of their employees, makes any warranty, expressor implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights. Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government or any agency thereof. The views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government or any agency thereof.