Nissan and Hydro-Québec partner to expand the public charging network in Québec; 20 DC Fast Charging sites in 2015, 5 in 2016
Petrobras is world’s largest operator of floating production platforms

New version of Argonne lifecycle model for water footprint of biofuels now includes cellulosic feedstocks

Argonne National Laboratory released the newest version (3.0) of the online tool Water Assessment for Transportation Energy Resources (WATER) this week. This latest version of WATER allows, for the first time, biofuels manufacturers to analyze water consumption associated with use of cellulosic feedstocks such as residue left from lumber production and other wood-based resources. The new tool also provides analysis down to the county level in the US for the first time.

WATER adopts a water footprint methodology, and contains extensive climate, land use, water resource, and process water data. Version 3.0 of WATER thus can help biofuels developers gain a detailed understanding of water consumption of various types of feedstocks, aiding development of sustainable fuels that will reduce impact on limited water resources.

While carbon-centered greenhouse gas lifecycle analysis focuses on average carbon use in the carbon cycle for a production pathway (carbon footprint), the water footprint analysis uses the hydrological cycle, focusing on both water use and sufficiency for a production pathway. Carbon footprinting follows elemental carbon mass; water footprinting tracers water molecules by types of water (blue and gren) and addresses water quality change (grey water).

Water footprint accounting. Blue water footprint = consumptive irrigation through evapotranspiration (ET), refinery process water loss through evaporation, and incorporation into products.

Green water footprint = precipitation consumed and returned to the atmosphere through ET.

Grey water footprint = volume equivalent water required to assimilate pollutant loading.

Data requirements include: climate; land cover; cropping system; management and practice; feedstock production; feedstock conversion process; co-product; direct water use; indirect water use; and water resource. Source: ANL. Click to enlarge.

Forest wood resources are some of the highest potential non-food biofuel feedstocks in terms of availability. That availability has started to attract global attention to these types of cellulosic resources for biofuels.

—May Wu, Water Analysis Team lead and principal environmental system analyst at Argonne

WATER was launched in 2013 to provide an in-depth analysis of water consumption used in the development of biofuel production, from cultivation to the conversion of the feedstock into fuel. By analyzing the amount of water used in the process, the tool allows industry to make informed decisions about what types of feedstock are most appropriate for use in water-limited areas.

The tool can assist stakeholders and developers as they consider water sustainability in proposed projects. It also can help state and local governments estimating possible water consumption and its impact on water quality.

As industry seeks to address the future need for new fuel sources, it is important to consider all the resources that go into that process. Water scarcity is a serious issue in many parts of the world and it should be considered when developing new types of fuel.

—May Wu

Version 3.0 analyzes the impacts of producing hydrocarbon fuel from wood resources on water supplies in the United States. An open-access online model, WATER creates a measurement of how much water is required to generate a gallon of fuel using multiple variables, including pathway comparison, scenario development and region-specific feedstock and biorefinery analysis.

The tool analyzes multiple biofuel pathways, including corn grain ethanol; soybean biodiesel; and agricultural residue-based ethanol produced from corn stover and wheat straw, as well as perennial grass-based ethanol produced from switchgrass and Miscanthus and hydrocarbon fuel produced from hard wood, soft wood and short-rotating woody crops.

It includes the conversion process; specific parameters address fermentation, pyrolysis, gasification and transesterification, among other processes.

The tool will allow producers to understand the water-energy-food nexus, enabling them to find ways to create biofuels that do not use food sources. For example, using forest wood waste generated from lumber production would allow the creation of cellulosic biofuels without consuming food stocks.

Supported by Department of Energy’s EERE Bioenergy Technologies Office, WATER is developed by Argonne National Laboratory.



These models are all SO USELESS because the assumptions they make are so way or another. Even if they're trying to be objective, this is "science" at the level of "medicine" during the 1700's: Hmmm, the patient is sick and it must be bad blood so let's bleed him and see if he gets better.
A perfectly logical assumption with what they knew at the time, but clearly killing the patient based on those assumptions.

What we are assuming today on these models is just as uninformed really. The only thing you can say for sure is that wind and solar are cleaner and use less water and pollute less and are more expensive for DIRECT costs...but you can't say crap about the indirect costs. You certainly can't say how they compare accurately in indirect costs because again, you have to make so many assumptions and those are just as wildly inaccurate. When you also throw in regulatory factors that change from country to country, state to state and even county to county...a waste of digital trees to even publish this stuff.


Same land, same grow food/feed then use the stalks. The water used in the process is recycled, the lignin can be gasified to produce synthetic diesel, gasoline and jet fuel.

The comments to this entry are closed.