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The coming of biofuels: Study shows reducing gasoline emissions will benefit human health
Date:5/28/2009

al scientist who also holds joint appointments with Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley.

"In a typical LCIA, we evaluate the potential impact on human health and the environment of a product or activity holistically, by analyzing those effects over the entire life cycle of the product or activity," McKone said in his presentation. "For biofuels, we will ultimately need to look at the overall human health and environmental impacts of biomass production, converting and processing this biomass into fuel, storing, transporting and distributing that fuel, and finally the actual combustion and use of the biofuel."

EBI is a partnership between UC Berkeley, Berkeley Lab, the University of Illinois and BP, the energy corporation that has provided EBI with a 10-year $500-million grant. Part of its mission is to look into the environmental, social and economic dimensions of a transition to biofuels for transportation energy. In their initial LCIA, McKone and Lobscheid wanted to gain a better understanding of both life-cycle impacts and the distribution in space and time of these impacts for reduced gasoline use. To do this they first needed to define the factors that really matter for characterizing such impacts.

"For example, when looking at greenhouse gas emissions the key is to determine the total amount of emissions being vented into the atmosphere," McKone said. "However, when looking at the release of toxic pollutants, where the pollutants are being released can be more important than how much or even how toxic."

In preparing this LCIA on reduced gasoline use one of the biggest challenges faced by McKone and Lobscheid was the uncertainty factor in quantity, quality and relevance of their input data.

"Uncertainty was the elephant in the room for us," McKone said. "For an LCIA there are two types of uncertainties, those due to variability in measurements and models, and those due to lack of knowledge. In our case, the data is not w
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Contact: Lynn Yarris
lcyarris@lbl.gov
510-486-5375
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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