268104 Polybutylene Succinate Life Cycle Assessment Variations and Variables

Tuesday, October 30, 2012: 1:10 PM
304 (Convention Center )
Steven Young, SEED, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada, Hassan Moussa, ERS, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada and Yves Gerand, Information and Technology for Agricultural Processes, Irstea, Montpellier, France

Polybutylene succinate life cycle assessment variations and variables

S.B. Young, H.I. Moussa, Y. Gerand

Polybutylene succinate (PBS) is a novel polymer that was originally developed for its biodegradability, physical and mechanical properties, thermal and chemical resistance and processability. PBS approximates common thermoplastics in its performance and therefore presents tremendous possibility.

Life cycle assessment (LCA) was used to characterize the environmental profile of this polymer as a step towards sustainability characterization. Possible variations in feedstocks sources were considered: 1) fossil petrochemical sources used for both the succinic acid and 1,4-diobuitinol (BDO) that together produce the prepolymer, 2) 100% biobased feedstocks that are converted into succinic acid from which 1,4 BDO can also be derived, and 3) hybrid combinations of fossil-biobased feedstocks. Challenges due to data quality and data availability for such new processes and feedstocks create uncertainties in results. Sensitivity was considered for insulation efficiency and polymerization yield.

Results indicated a gross energy requirement of approximately 136 MJ/kg PBS pellet (cradle to gate) for the 100% fossil feedstock material. Greenhouse gas emissions were compared to previous analysis by Showa Denko K.K. Results are most significantly affected by assumptions on thermal and electrical energy that underpin all production stages, biomass feedstock cultivation and agricultural practices, methodological choices and system boundaries.

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