Navigation Links
Caution needed with new greenhouse gas emission standards

Policy makers need to be cautious in setting new 'low-carbon' standards for greenhouse gas emissions for oil sands-derived fuels as well as fuels from conventional crude oils University of Calgary and University of Toronto researchers say in a paper published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

The researchers, using for the first time confidential data from actual oil sands operations, did a 'well-to-wheel' lifecycle analysis of greenhouse gas emissions from transportation fuels produced by Alberta oil sands operations compared with conventional crude oils.

They found that lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions vary widely across both actual surface mining and in situ oil sands operations and conventional crude cases reported in the scientific literature, depending on individual project operating conditions, technology used and other factors.

"Our study suggests it is not productive to get bogged down in a debate over whether fuels derived from the oil sands emit five per cent or 20 per cent more GHG emissions than fuels produced from conventional oils," says Joule Bergerson, who led the University of Calgary group for the study, with Heather MacLean who led the University of Toronto group.

"We need to focus instead on finding a transparent, consistent and reliable way of accounting for and reporting well-to-wheel greenhouse gas emissions across the industry and the entire economy."

The research team developed a new model called GHOST (GreenHouse gas emissions of current Oil Sands Technologies), which accounted for the 'upstream' GHG emissions associated with the recovery, extraction, dilution, transportation and upgrading of bitumen. This data was combined with information in the scientific literature on 'downstream' emissions from refining, fuel delivery, vehicle refueling and vehicle use, to arrive at the comprehensive lifecycle analysis.

The team's findings overall supported the widespread perception that the production of transportation fuels from the oil sands is more GHG-intensive than production of fuels from conventional crude oil. However, the findings also show that some lower-emitting oil sands operations actually can outperform higher-emitting conventional crude cases in terms of GHG emissions intensity (the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per barrel of fuel produced).

"The key message here is that there are large, and overlapping, ranges of potential well-to-wheel GHG emissions performance of both oil sands and conventional crudes. Therefore, ranges rather than point estimates should be utilized to represent this performance," says Bergerson, an assistant professor of chemical and petroleum engineering in the Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy and the Schulich School of Engineering.

Policies such as low-carbon fuel standards and a focus on reducing oil sands operating emissions alone is an initial step but will not be sufficient to achieve meaningful long-term environmental policy goals, the researchers said in the study.

Vehicle operation, say researchers, made up 64 to 74 per cent of the wheel-to-well GHG emissions in the oil sands operations. California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard, which requires a reduction in the state's transportation fuels of at least 10 per cent by 2020, "will be complicated by the overlapping ranges of emissions associated with oil sands and conventional crude pathways."

The wide range of potential emissions intensities for oil sands and conventional crude oils suggests that treating all oil sands, whether surfacing mining or in situ, or all conventional crudes as having the same level of emissions may lead to "unintended consequences," say researchers.

Contact: Mark Lowey
University of Calgary

Related biology news :

1. Bioethics for Beginners: 60 Cases and Cautions from the Moral Frontier of Healthcare
2. No matter the drilling method, natural gas is a much-needed tool to battle global warming
3. Vaccine and antibiotics stabilized so refrigeration is not needed -- NIH study
4. Bigger refuges needed to delay pest resistance to biotech corn
5. Report addresses challenges in implementing new diagnostic tests where they are needed most
6. Urgent research needed to determine most effective follow-up care for lung cancer patients
7. Increasing water scarcity in Californias Bay-Delta will necessitate trade-offs; hard decisions needed to balance various environmental risks
8. Weizmann Institute solar technology to convert greenhouse gas into fuel
9. Atmospheric scientists release first bottom-up estimates of Chinas CO2 emissions
10. Bugs have key role in farming approach to storing CO2 emissions
11. By adding VSL#3 probiotic to traditional therapies UC patients can improve remission rates
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/9/2015)... , Nov. 9, 2015  Synaptics Inc. (NASDAQ: ... solutions, today announced broader entry into the automotive market ... that match the pace of consumer electronics human interface ... sensors are ideal for the automotive industry and will ... Europe , Japan ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... , Oct. 29, 2015  The J. Craig Venter ... titled, "DNA Synthesis and Biosecurity: Lessons Learned and Options ... of Health and Human Services guidance for synthetic biology ... --> --> ... has the potential to pose unique biosecurity threats. It ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... 29, 2015 NXTD ) ... focused on the growing mobile commerce market and ... StackCommerce, a leading marketplace to discover and buy ... smart wallet on StackSocial for this holiday season. ... the "Company"), a biometric authentication company focused on ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... and NEW YORK , November 24, ... investment by Bristol-Myers Squibb in a European ... Bristol-Myers Squibb Company in which the companies will work ... immuno-oncology and other areas of unmet medical need. The collaboration ... LSP 5, the latest LSP fund. This is the first ...
(Date:11/23/2015)... CHICAGO , Nov. 24, 2015 Women with ... screening CT exams face a higher risk of lung cancer ... being presented next week at the annual meeting of the ... --> --> Lung ... are classified as solid or subsolid based on their appearance ...
(Date:11/23/2015)... ... 23, 2015 , ... Shimadzu Corporation announces that it has ... Chromatography system. The award from R&D magazine recognizes Shimadzu’s Nexera UC system as ... the analytical and testing category. R&D Magazine chose the Nexera UC system because ...
(Date:11/23/2015)... England and PISCATAWAY, New ... Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre (CCDC) ... the Cambridge Structural Database (CSD) and the CSD-System, ... for researchers worldwide: CSD-Discovery to support the discovery ... crystalline materials, and CSD-Enterprise, the complete set of ...
Breaking Biology Technology: