(9a) A Marco-Level Impact Assessment Tool for Emerging Technologies in Chemical Industry

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

In the U.S, chemicals industry is one of major energy consumers and sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions[1-3]. As the economy and population grows, the increasing demand for energy and more severe environmental problems is prompting the development and adoption of emerging technologies in chemicals industry to reduce energy consumption and adverse environmental impacts, which can make contributions to a greener economy. However, not every technology has equal potential for national energy saving and environmental pollution reduction. The assessment of the energy and environmental impacts of these emerging technologies is important because based on these information companies and policy makers make choices on investment and promotion within these technology classes. But current assessment models[4-6] fail to conduct assessments for emerging technologies satisfying the requirements of policy makers for the lack of process data, inflexibility across different products and feedstocks, and ignorance of temporal and spatial dimensions.

In this study, a macro-level modeling framework is developed to serve as a useful tool for policy maker to understand the net energy, emissions and economic impacts of emerging technologies on entire U.S. economy from a life cycle perspective. The results can provide insightful indications on critical factors driving the energy, emissions and resources utilization of chemical production, and offer the answers to which technologies can lead to significant reductions in the national impacts of chemical industry. The modeling framework is generic and flexible enough to be used as a macro-level decision support tool applied across feedstocks, products and technologies and make robust projections and reasonable comparisons over temporal and spatial scales, which is useful for long-term planning of national energy consumption reduction and GHG emissions mitigation.

A preliminary result for the case of ethylene is presented here for demonstration. The results showed that by 2040 a novel catalyst-assisted technology has the potential to reduce 50 million GJ of life-cycle energy consumption of U.S. ethylene industry and avoid 3 million tons of CO2-equiv GHG emissions. For other emerging technologies applied to ethylene production, the model assesses their net impacts under different economic and resources projections by scenario analysis. Since this model allows for the assessment of economy-wide potential reductions of emerging technologies for a variety of chemical productions, more case studies of different chemicals manufactured by multiple technologies will be presented in oral presentation.


[1]        ICCA, "Innovations for Greenhouse Gas Reductions " International Council of Chemical Associations 2009.

[2]        E. Worrell, D. Phylipsen, D. Einstein, and N. Martin, "Energy Use and Energy Intensity of the U.S. Chemical Industry " Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, California2000.

[3]        EIA, "Annual Energy Outlook 2013 " U.S. Energy Information Administration Washington, DC 2013.

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

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

[6]        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.