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Ex-ante environmental assessments of novel technologies – Improved caprolactam catalysis and hydrogen storage

Roes, A.L.
Published in Journal of Cleaner Production. 2011, vol. 19, no. 14, p. 1659-1667
Abstract Utrecht University has conducted a pilot sustainability assessment for the executive board of the chemistry program ACTS (Advanced Chemical Technologies for Sustainability) of the Netherlands' Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). These assessments represent prospective, i.e. 'ex-ante' studies on the production of caprolactam by an improved catalyst and on different hydrogen storage options (i.e. compressed and liquefied hydrogen, storage in metal hydrides and storage in a metal organic framework). The pilot sustainability assessments followed the principles of environmental life cycle assessment (LCA), thereby focusing on non-renewable energy use (NREU) and climate change (GWP100). It was found that caprolactam with the novel catalyst has lower impacts than petrochemical caprolactam production from benzene but higher impacts than bio-based caprolactam produced via fermentation. Regarding hydrogen storage, it was found that compressed and liquid hydrogen have the highest impacts. The impacts of the metal hydrides and the metal organic frameworks show by far the lowest environmental impacts. The main reason is that these materials can be reused up to 1500 times (refilling of tank), while for compressing and liquefaction of hydrogen energy is needed each time a tank needs to be refilled. The study demonstrates the successful application of ex-ante technology assessment.
Keywords Caprolactam catalysisEx-ante technology assessmentHydrogen storageLife cycle assessment
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ROES, A.L., PATEL, Martin. Ex-ante environmental assessments of novel technologies – Improved caprolactam catalysis and hydrogen storage. In: Journal of Cleaner Production, 2011, vol. 19, n° 14, p. 1659-1667. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2011.05.010

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Deposited on : 2014-12-15

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