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Life cycle water footprint analysis for the production of bioslurry fuels from fast pyrolysis of mallee biomass in Western Australia

Qu, Yuanxu (2017) Life cycle water footprint analysis for the production of bioslurry fuels from fast pyrolysis of mallee biomass in Western Australia. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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It is projected that, in 2029-2030, coal will continue as a dominant fuel and take up 64% of energy market of Australia, because it supplies cheap and secure electricity generation [1]. However, combustion of coal contributes to various emissions including CO2, SO2, particulate matter (PM) and other pollutants [1]. Therefore, renewable energy, especially biomass is believed to be a vital energy source for sustainable development in the foreseeable future [2]. For example, mallee eucalypts as a key second-generation bioenergy feedstock are widely planted in the wheatbelt region of the southwest of Western Australia (WA) (300-600 mm rainfall zone) [1, 3]. However, mallee, as a kind of lignocellulosic biomass, suffers from its low volumetric energy density (about 5 GJ/m3), high moisture content (about 50%) and poor grindability, which causes the high transport cost [2]. This is unaccepted for a long-distance transport of biomass [2]. Pyrolysis as a chemical process converts biomass to a high energy product like bioslurry that can significantly reduce the transport cost [2]. However, some reports indicated the water consumption of producing bioenergy is larger than the traditional fuel such as coal [4]. Therefore, it is necessary to trace the life cycle Water Footprint (WF) of certain bioenergy production processes from the cradle to the grave. This thesis evaluates the WF of a biomass supply chain and a bioslurry supply chain in the transport and conversion stages in WA. 30 shires having abundant mallee stems resources are selected as the mallee supplying area for the Muja power station C and D units (874 MW). Also, an ideal harvesting and transport model is designed to determine the location of every farm gate of every selected shire for measuring the distances from 286 farm gates to the Muja power station, pyrolysis plant A, and pyrolysis plant B. In addition, Pyrolysis plant A (157.3 dry tonnes/day) is sited on Dalwallinu and pyrolysis plant B (203 dry tonnes/day) is sited on Wickepin, converting biomass to bioslurry, and then transport the bioslurry to the Muja power station. The result shows the annual water consumption of the bioslurry supply chain is approximately 22 times that of the biomass supply chain. However, the cost, energy, and carbon footprint of bioslurry supply chain have been proved by previous reports from Curtin University, having an advantage over the biomass supply chain in WA [2, 5].

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Engineering and Information Technology
Supervisor(s): Gao, Xiangpeng
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