Life Cycle Assessment for Evaluating On-farm Energy Production: The Case of Sunflower Oil

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Lara Riello *
Stefano Bona
(*) Corresponding Author:
Lara Riello | mikimos@mac.com

Abstract

The main objective of this work was to evaluate the production of sunflower oil as a source of bioenergy and its use on the farm. Representative farms of the Veneto Region were analyzed in order to evaluate the possibility of using different biofuels. The results showed that there are only a few feasible alternatives at farm level. The conversion of oil to biodiesel appeared unachievable because of the large number of hectares necessary for optimizing use of the transesterification equipment. A life cycle environmental analysis (LCA) was applied to eight different farm types simulating the total replacement of diesel oil by pure vegetable oil (sunflower). The results were not uniform because, considering all the LCA impact categories, some of them turned to be worse than the original scenario (use of diesel oil) but there was a substantial advantage for all the farm types in terms of reduction of substances with effects on climate change. Some farms, termed horticultural farm large, unspecialized farm large and unspecialized farm small, had a reduction of more than 99% in the substances with effects on climate change by changing from diesel oil to sunflower oil. The biofuel is not yet competitive as no free market exists for it, but it represents a practical way to avoid the shift of economic benefits from agriculture to industry, as happens with biodiesel production.

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