LCA applied to elucidate opportunities for biogas from wastewaters in Colombia

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Biogas produced in municipal and industrial wastewater treatment facilities (BWWF) is a resource wasted in several socio-economic contexts. BWWF-based projects are compared against energy projects using conventional electricity or natural gas (NG), following strict economic considerations that usually tip the balance in favour of conventional energy supply. This is because the economic gain associated with the environmental benefits of using small biogas sources like BWWF does not overcome the technical and financial effort required in these types of project. This paper shows a broader application of life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology to explore opportunities for positive (or effective) utilization of BWWF in the Colombian context. LCA has been used to evaluate the supply-chain of NG which is the direct competitor of BWWF, in three different Colombian regions, in order to identify those where higher NG environmental impacts offer increased environmental added-value to BWWF use. LCA was also applied to study two BWWF valorization scenarios in the poultry processing industry. It shows how valorization options for BWWF are more realistic and effective when specific-regional loads are applied to the environmental assessment of NG supply-chain and BWWF valorization.

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