LCA APPLIED TO AN ANAEROBIC DIGESTION PLANT FOR BIOMETHANE AND DIGESTATE PRODUCTION
Nowadays it is paramount to promote bioenergy for climate protection, energy security and creation of income/jobs. In this perspective, Anaerobic Digestion (AD) for biogas and digestate production seems to be a viable way to simultaneously improve waste management while producing Renewable Energy Sources (RES). The main objective of this work is to assess the environmental impact associated with biomethane and digestate production from an AD plant as Global Warming Potential, expressed in CO2 equivalents. Therefore, a LCA was carried out for the production of biomethane ready for the injection into the Italian distribution natural gas grid.
A mix from different waste sources (cattle manure and slurry, pig slurry, Citrus industry by-product, chicken manure, manure from broilers, triticale silage and waste from vegetable cleaning) is considered for biogas and digestate production. Besides biomethane this plant will produce digestate, that is a biological and nutrient-rich fertiliser. Thus, the cycle of circular economy is closed, as the recovery of matter and energy is carried out from waste.
The results clearly indicate the importance of the process steps transport of biomass to AD plant and, above all, methane upgrading (separation by membrane). Depending on the high amount of the substrate and long distance travelled, Citrus waste substrate transport accounts for the largest share in GHG emissions with 0.229 kg CO2-eq/Nm3 or 70.5 % of total transportation emission. Greenhouse gas emissions estimated for the various process stages for the Sclafani Bagni plant showed, that methane upgrading emits 1.95 kg CO2-eq/Nm3, while other processes totally emits 0.525 kg CO2-eq/Nm3. The LCIA results confirmed the negative total impact of the process with grid injection, in terms of kg of CO2 eq.: the LCA verified the carbon-negative-bio-energy concept of the project. Therefore, biomethane derived from biogas is an entirely renewable and readily available low carbon alternative fuel, that can be locally produced from organic waste and capable to replace the fossil natural gas in the near future.