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Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of Energy Consumption, Pollutant Emission, and Cost Analysis of Coal/Oil/Biomass to Ethylene Glycol

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journal contribution
posted on 10.11.2021, 13:40 by Simin Xu, Zhiwei Li, Qingchun Yang, Genyun Chu, Jinliang Zhang, Dawei Zhang, Huairong Zhou, Minglin Gao
The industrialized coal-to-ethylene glycol (CtEG) route has become a potential competitor for the conventional oil-to-ethylene glycol (OtEG) route, and the emerging biomass-to-ethylene glycol (BtEG) route is also recognized because of its good environmental performance. In this study, life cycle assessment (LCA) is used to compare and analyze the life cycle energy consumption, pollutant emissions, and life cycle costs (LCC) of CtEG, OtEG, and BtEG routes. According to the results, the ethylene glycol production process is the main contributor to energy consumption and pollutant emissions. Compared with the OtEG route, the BtEG route has lower environmental costs but high direct production costs. The CtEG route provides a viable alternative for coal-rich and oil-deficient countries. However, as a promising production route for ethylene glycol, the CtEG route has the disadvantages of high energy consumption and high pollutant emissions, resulting in large environmental costs and not in line with the concept of sustainable development. Therefore, how to reduce energy consumption and pollutant emissions in the production process, especially carbon emissions, is an urgent problem to be solved. This research provides an important basis for improving the production of ethylene glycol and helps decision makers choose the most suitable production route for ethylene glycol based on actual conditions.