Lifecycle greenhouse gas footprint and minimum selling price of renewable diesel and jet fuel from fermentation and advanced fermentation production technologies†
Fermentation and advanced fermentation (AF) biofuel production technologies may offer a means to reduce the greenhouse gas (GHG) intensity of transportation by providing renewable drop-in alternatives to conventional middle distillate (MD) fuels, including diesel and jet fuel. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first peer-reviewed study of the environmental and economic feasibility of AF technologies. We find that the attributional lifecycle GHG footprint of AF MD from sugar cane, corn grain and switchgrass ranges from −27.0 to 19.7, 47.5 to 117.5, and 11.7 to 89.8 gCO2e/MJMD, respectively, compared to 90.0 gCO2e/MJMD for conventional MD. These results are most sensitive to the co-product allocation method used, the efficiency and utility requirements of feedstock-to-fuel conversion, and the co-generation technology employed. We also calculate the minimum selling price (MSP) of MD fuel produced from sugar cane, corn grain and switchgrass AF as a range from 0.61 to 2.63, 0.84 to 3.65, and 1.09 to 6.30 $ per literMD, respectively, compared to the current price of conventional MD in the United States of approximately 0.80 $ per literMD. The MSP results are most sensitive to feedstock-to-fuel conversion efficiency, feedstock costs, and capital costs. Finally, we demonstrate that emissions from land use change (LUC) directly attributable to the growth of biomass for AF fuel could dominate the GHG footprint of AF MD fuels.