Date of Award

8-2010

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Environmental Engineering and Science

Advisor

Miller, Shelie A

Committee Member

Moysey , Stephen J

Committee Member

Lee , Cindy M

Abstract

The interactions of a growing human population and increasing demand for food and energy have led to governmental and social pressures encouraging the adoption of biofuels as a substitute for fossil energy sources; however, several potential biofuel feedstocks can compete directly with food products for valuable land area. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a tool that examines the environmental impacts of a product or process and can assist decision makers in the development of policy. The environmental impacts of land use are not well incorporated into LCA. As an emerging field, there is no consensus regarding the best methods by which to include these impacts, and as a result, many methods have been proposed. A literature review was conducted of methods proposed since 2000 to include land use impacts in LCA. After compiling a list of methods, Multiple Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) was used to select a method to apply to a case study: the production of switchgrass as a bioenergy feedstock in the Pee Dee region of South Carolina (SC). The methods proposed by Weidema and Lindeijer (2001) and Mila i Canals et al. (2007) emerged as promising methods. After application to a case study of switchgrass production for biofuel applications in the Pee Dee region of South Carolina, the impacts to carbon emissions emerged as significant, and tradeoffs between carbon sequestered by switchgrass growth and lost assimilative capacity due to land use change were examined.

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