National Academies to conduct study on methods of LCA of low-carbon transportation fuels
01 March 2021
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine is forming a committee that will conduct a study on the current methods for life cycle analyses (LCA) of low-carbon transportation fuels in the United States.
Low carbon fuel standards, such as the Federal Renewable Fuel Standard and the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), are major US programs for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from transportation fuels. These standards rely on life cycle assessment (LCA) as a tool to estimate fuel GHG emissions.
However, current LCAs differ notably in how they are implemented, with disagreements pertaining to data quality, modeling approaches, and key assumptions.
The National Academies aims to develop a reliable and coherent approach for applying LCA to low carbon fuel standards via the methodological assessment.
In carrying out its assessment, the committee will identify the general characteristics and capabilities of GHG emissions estimation methods that would be commonly needed across various types of low-carbon fuels programs applied at a national level. The committee will include these considerations:
Direct GHG emissions over the entire lifecycle of a given transportation fuel, including feedstock generation or extraction, feedstock conversion to a finished fuel or blendstock, distribution, storage, delivery, and use of the fuel in vehicles.
Potentially significant indirect GHG emissions, such as those associated with indirect land use changes attributed to biofuels production.
Key assumptions, input parameters, and data quality and quantity for application of lifecycle GHG emission models for different regions of the United States.
Needs for additional data, methods for data collection, standardized inputs for lifecycle analyses, and model improvements.
The National Academies is seeking approximately 14 members with expertise in the fields of: life cycle analysis (LCA); fuel production and use (including fossil fuels, biofuels, and electricity); economics; greenhouse gas (GHG) emission modeling; uncertainty analysis; terrestrial ecosystems; and environmental policy decision-making.
Nominations will be accepted until 15 March 2021.