428222 Evaluation of Jatropha curcas As a Sustainable Biodiesel Feedstock in Argentina Using Life Cycle Analysis (LCA)

Monday, November 9, 2015: 8:55 AM
257B (Salt Palace Convention Center)
Alexa Beaver1, Fabio Antonio González1, Federico Andersen2 and Maria Soledad Diaz3, (1)Planta Piloto de Ingeniería Química (PLAPIQUI), CONICET- Universidad Nacional del Sur, Bahía Blanca, Argentina, (2)Chemical Engineering, Planta Piloto de Ingenieria Quimica (PLAPIQUI), CONICET- Universidad Nacional del Sur , Bahia Blanca, Argentina, (3)Chemical Engineering, Planta Piloto de Ingenieria Quimica (PLAPIQUI), CONICET - Universidad Nacional del Sur, Bahia Blanca, Argentina

Despite constant changes and obstacles to the industry in recent years, Argentina remains one of the most important producers of biodiesel in the world. In fact, biodiesel exports from Argentina increased 40% in 2014, from 1.15 million metric tons in 2013 to 1.6 million in 2014. In addition to this, domestic production increased approximately 28% in 20141, and production capacity has reached nearly 3 million tons per year.2 Global biodiesel production is expected to increase to nearly 42 billion liters by 2020, with Argentina being a key player in the continued growth of the industry.3

Argentine biodiesel production will continue to be focused primarily on exportation in the coming years. Primary destinations for Argentine biodiesel, such as the US, UK, and Netherlands, are continually developing strict sustainability criteria for biocombustibles based on growing concern about the potential negative impacts of biofuels. For this reason, it is imperative that the sustainability of Argentine biodiesel be evaluated in order for the industry to survive.4 With this in mind, approximately 90% of the biodiesel produced in Argentina is from soybean, a fact which has raised concern over the fuel’s sustainability. The majority of soybeans in Argentina are produced via large-scale monocropping, a method with proven economic, environmental, and social disadvantages. Major concerns include the negative impact on the soil, lack of biodiversity, growing need for deforestation, and expulsion of small farmers.5

For this reason, alternative crops including Jatropha curcas are being explored. Jatropha curcas is an attractive option because it is able to grow in marginal lands, thus reducing land competition between energy and food crops.6 Once mature, Jatropha plants can produce seeds for a period of 30 to 50 years with an oil content as high as 48% in comparison to 20% for soybean.7 Furthermore, a recent study comparing various biodiesel feedstocks shows that Jatropha biodiesel production, when coupled with a cogeneration plant, proves to be the best option from an environmental and economical perspective.8 Although this crop appears to be very promising, few studies exist on the sustainability of Jatropha as a biodiesel feedstock. Studies of Jatropha have been completed for countries such as China, Brazil, and India, but never in the case of Argentina.9

In this work, we perform a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA)10 for the Jatropha biodiesel supply chain in Argentina. We use the Eco-Indicator 99 (ECO99) method11, which has been successfully implemented in the evaluation of sustainability of biorefineries12 and chemical product supply chains.13Our analysis includes aspects of the supply chain such as seed cultivation, seed transportation, oil extraction, biodiesel production, biodiesel mixing, and the use of biodiesel in a diesel combustion engine. Furthermore, this work includes land use change and water usage, aspects which are typically omitted due to their complexity and the lack of available information. The results obtained from this analysis reveal those aspects which contribute most to the overall environmental damage, so as to better focus efforts to minimize environmental impact throughout the Jatropha biodiesel supply chain.

While the life cycle analysis portion of this work provides a view into the environmental impact of Jatropha, sustainability also encompasses economic and social impacts; therefore, we formulate a multi-objective optimization problem to maximize profit while minimizing environmental impact, utilizing the Ɛ-constraint method.14,15We obtain Pareto-optimal curves, which demonstrate the trade-off between economic and enrivonmental impacts and provide a useful decision-making tool. This study strives to provide a comprehensive view of the sustainability of Jatropha biodiesel in Argentina, which could support its resurgence into the biodiesel market and demonstrate compliance with international standards.


  1. Cámara Argentina de Biocombustibles, CARBIO. (2015). La producción de Biodiesel en Argentina: Una decisión estratégica. [En línea] http://carbio.com.ar/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Paper-Biodiesel-Abril-del-2015.pdf.
  2. Huerga, I., Zanuttini M.S., Gross, M., Querini, C. (2014). Biodiesel production from Jatrophacurcas: Integrated process optimization. Energy Conversion and Management, 80, 1-9.
  3. OECD-FAO. (2011). Agricultural Outlook 2011-2020. [En linea] http://www.agri-outlook.org/48178823.pdf
  4. Panichelli, L., Dauriat, A., Gnansounou, E. (2008). Life cycle assessment of soybeanbased biodiesel in Argentina for export. International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 14 (2), 144–159.
  5. Milazzo, M.F., Spina, F., Cavallaro, S., Bart, J.C.J. (2013). Sustainable soy biodiesel. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 27, 806-852.
  6. F. Andersen, F. Iturmendi, S. Espinosa, M.S. Diaz. (2012). Optimal design and planning of biodiesel supply chain with land competition. Computers and Chemical Engineering, 47, 170-182.
  7. Univesidad Nacional de Cuyo, UNCUYO. (2012). Informe: Cultivos energéticos para biocombustibles. [En línea] http://www.imd.uncu.edu.ar/upload/cultivos-energeticos-final.pdf
  8. Rincón, L.E., Jaramillo, J.J., Cardona, C.A. (2014). Comparison of feedstocks and technologies for biodiesel production: An environmental and techno-economic evaluation. Renewable Energy, 69, 479-487.
  9. Portugal-Pereira, J., Nakatani, J., Kurisu, K.H., Hanaki, K. (2015). Comparative energy and environmental analysis of Jatropha bioelectricity versus biodiesel production in remote areas. Energy, 83, 284-293.
  10. SO-14040 (2006) International Organization for Standardization. Series of Standards on Environmental Management and Life-Cycle Assessment: ISO 14040, 14041, 14042, 14043.
  11. PRé-Consultants, (2000). The Eco-indicator 99: A damage oriented method for life cycle impact assessment. In Methodology report and manual for designers. Amersfoort, The Netherlands: PRé-Consultants.
  12. Gebreslassie B.H. et al, (2013) Life cycle optimization for sustainable design and operations of hydrocarbon biorefinery via fast pyrolysis, hydrotreating and hydrocracking. Computers and Chemical Engineering, 50, pp. 71– 91.
  13. G. Guillén-Gosálbez y I. Grossmann. (2009) Optimal design and planning of sustainable chemical supply chains under uncertainty. AIChE J., 55, 99-121.
  14. F. You, L. Tao, D. Graziano y S. Snyder (2012). Optimal design of sustainable cellulosic biofuel supply chains: Multiobjective optimization coupled with life cycle assessment and input–output analysis. AIChE Journal, 58, pp. 1157-1180
  15. G. Guillén-Gosálbez, F.D. Mele, I. Grossmann (2010). A bi-criterion optimization approach for the design and planning of hydrogen supply chains for vehicle use. AIChE J., 56, 650-667.

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