(409b) A Techno-Economic, Life-Cycle Modeling Framework for Emerging Technology Assessments in the U.S. Chemical Industry

Yao, Y., Northwestern University
Graziano, D. J., Argonne National Laboratory
Riddle, M., Argonne National Laboratory
Masanet, E., Northwestern University

Driven by rapid growth of global economy and population, the increasing demand for energy and more severe environmental problems is stimulating the development and adoption of emerging technologies in chemicals industry for reduction of energy consumption and adverse environmental impacts. The assessment of the energy/environmental/economic impacts of these emerging technologies is critical because these evaluations provide companies and policy makers with useful references for decision making in investment of research and promotion of emerging technologies. But current assessment models are not able to offer generic and flexible approaches for evaluating technologies across different feedstocks and products, nor do they deliver vigorous methods to assess emerging technologies in the absence of process data and over the temporal and spatial scales relating to investment decisions[1-3].

In this research, a novel and credible modeling framework is developed to evaluate the net impacts, including energy, emissions, and economic implications, of pathway/technology changes for chemicals systems effects across the entire U.S. economy from a life cycle perspective over spatial and temporal scales. The model integrates techno-economic analyses, LCA (life-cycle assessment) and chemical process design to provide guidance on the reduction potential of different emerging technologies, the technologies and operational changes required, and the investment cost for such technologies. The results given by the model can shed the light on the understanding of the important system drivers for energy, emissions, resource use, and costs and at the same time figure out certain technologies critical for “step change” reductions in the economy-wide impacts of chemicals production.

The modeling approach and several case studies will be presented in oral presentation. A concept model for the case of ammonia is shown here for demonstration. The results indicate that 170 million GJ of life-cycle energy consumption of U.S. ammonia production can be saved by adopting a novel auto-thermal reforming technology by 2040, as a result, 9.5 million tons of CO2-equiv emissions can be avoided. With respect to other novel technologies, the model evaluates their net impacts in different scenarios of economic and resources projections. Expanding on this modeling framework for other bulk chemical production, this model allows for the assessment of economy-wide potential reductions of emerging technologies for a variety of chemical productions. This modeling framework can also serve as a useful tool for reasonable projections and robust comparisons over temporal and spatial scale to answer the question of how do different feedstocks and/or technologies compare for a given target product over time and space, which will be useful for long-term national energy efficiency and GHG emissions mitigation planning.


[1]        EIA. (01/02). The National Energy Modeling System: An Overview Available: http://www.eia.gov/oiaf/aeo/overview/

[2]        ETSAP. (12/11). MARKAL. Available: tp://www.iea-etsap.org/web/Markal.asp

[3]        M. D. Tabone, J. J. Cregg, E. J. Beckman, and A. E. Landis, "Sustainability Metrics: Life Cycle Assessment and Green Design in Polymers," Environmental Science & Technology, vol. 44, pp. 8264-8269, 2010/11/01 2010.