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A Comparative Life-Cycle Assessment of Briquetting Logging Residues and Lumber Manufacturing Coproducts in Western United States

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 34(1): 11-24. (doi: 10.13031/aea.12378) @2018
Authors:   Sevda Alanya-Rosenbaum, Richard D. Bergman, Indroneil Ganguly, Francesca Pierobon
Keywords:   Bioenergy, Biomass densification, Briquette, Forest residues, Life-cycle assessment, Sawdust.

Abstract. Timber harvest activities in the western United States have resulted in large volumes of low- to no-value logging (forest) residues. Alternatives to pile-and-burning are needed to best utilize this material and to mitigate the resultant environmental impacts. Briquetting (densifying) forest residues near-woods is one such option and is the focus of this study. This study presents a cradle-to-grave life-cycle assessment (LCA) performed to evaluate the overall environmental impacts associated with briquetting post-harvest forest residues and dry sawmill residues (sawdust) in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) region of the United States. Environmental impacts resulting from the two briquette production systems were compared with firewood and propane production, which are common residential heating sources in rural areas of the PNW, on a per 1 MJ of useful energy for domestic heating. In the briquetted post-harvest forest residue system, the feedstock preparation stage had the largest share in global warming (GW) impact, mainly resulting from the drying process (69.5%), followed by transportation. Valorization of post-harvest forest residues, in combination with a briquetter, to produce a bioenergy carrier was revealed to be advantageous in smog, acidification, and eutrophication impact categories, with considerable environmental benefits from avoided pile-and-burn emissions. With all scenarios investigated, briquette production from post-harvest forest residues with high dryer efficiency showed lowest GW impact compared to briquetting sawmill residues and firewood supply chain. For a scenario analysis, LCA showed that using a diesel generator to support the forest residue briquetter operation resulted in 45% higher GW impact compared to use of a wood-gas-powered generator.

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