Life cycle assessment of gasoline production and use in Chile

  • Morales M
  • Gonzalez-García S
  • Aroca G
 et al. 
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Gasoline is the second most consumed fuel in Chile, accounting for 34% of the total fuel consumption in transportation related activities in 2012. Chilean refineries process more than 97% of the total gasoline commercialized in the national market. When it comes to evaluating the environmental profile of a Chilean process or product, the analysis should consider the characteristics of the Chilean scenario for fuel production and use. Therefore, the identification of the environmental impacts of gasoline production turns to be very relevant for the determination of the associated environmental impacts. For this purpose, Life Cycle Assessment has been selected as a useful methodology to assess the ecological burdens derived from fuel-based systems. In this case study, five subsystems were considered under a "well-to-wheel" analysis: crude oil extraction, gasoline importation, refinery, gasoline storage and distribution/use. The distance of 1. km driven by a middle size passenger car was chosen as functional unit. Moreover, volume, economic and energy-based allocations were also considered in a further sensitivity analysis. According to the results, the main hotspots were the refining activities as well as the tailpipe emissions from car use. When detailing by impact category, climate change was mainly affected by the combustion emissions derived from the gasoline use and refining activities. Refinery was also remarkable in toxicity related categories due to heavy metals emissions. In ozone layer and mineral depletion, transport activities played an important role. Refinery was also predominant in photochemical oxidation and water depletion. In terms of terrestrial acidification and marine eutrophication, the combustion emissions from gasoline use accounted for large contributions. This study provides real inventory data for the Chilean case study and the environmental results give insight into their influence of the assessment of products and processes in the country. Moreover, they could be compared with production and distribution schemes in other regions.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Environmental assessment
  • Passenger car
  • Refinery
  • Transportation fuel
  • Well-to-wheel analysis

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