Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Caution needed with new greenhouse gas emission standards: New model provides lifecycle analysis of 'well-to-wheel' oil sands emissions

Date:
July 13, 2012
Source:
University of Calgary
Summary:
Researchers developed a new model called GHOST (GreenHouse gas emissions of current Oil Sands Technologies), which accounted for the 'upstream' GHG emissions combined with information in the scientific literature on 'downstream' emissions.

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 'wellto- 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.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Calgary. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Joule A. Bergerson, Oyeshola Kofoworola, Alex D. Charpentier, Sylvia Sleep, Heather L. MacLean. Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Current Oil Sands Technologies: Surface Mining andIn SituApplications. Environmental Science & Technology, 2012; 120706160913005 DOI: 10.1021/es300718h

Cite This Page:

University of Calgary. "Caution needed with new greenhouse gas emission standards: New model provides lifecycle analysis of 'well-to-wheel' oil sands emissions." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120713122945.htm>.
University of Calgary. (2012, July 13). Caution needed with new greenhouse gas emission standards: New model provides lifecycle analysis of 'well-to-wheel' oil sands emissions. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120713122945.htm
University of Calgary. "Caution needed with new greenhouse gas emission standards: New model provides lifecycle analysis of 'well-to-wheel' oil sands emissions." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120713122945.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Why Did Nike Fire Most Of Its Nike FuelBand Team?

Why Did Nike Fire Most Of Its Nike FuelBand Team?

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) Nike fired most of its Digital Sport hardware team, the group behind Nike's FuelBand device. Could Apple or an overcrowded market be behind layoffs? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the industry fell under intense scrutiny. Now, small underground nuclear power plants are being considered as the possible future of the nuclear energy. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show

Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) An electric car that proponents hope will replace horse-drawn carriages in New York City has also been revealed at the auto show. (Apr. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

AFP (Apr. 17, 2014) It walks and runs, even up and down stairs. It can open a bottle and serve a drink, and politely tries to shake hands with a stranger. Meet the latest ASIMO, Honda's humanoid robot. Duration: 00:54 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins