Year 1 Post-Doctoral Program (Start July 2020)
Environmental assessment of negative emissions technologies
Project Type: Post-doctoral project proposed to the newly created Chair at IFP School
Duration: 18 months, starting on sept. 2019 (effective start July 2020)
Ideal profile for the candidate: PhD in Life Cycle Assessment on energy production / CCUS technologies
Supervisor: Dr. Pierre Collet
The unintended consequence of human activities since industrial revolution is a 120 ppm increase in atmospheric concentration of CO2, which has already changed our climate (the global mean temperature has already risen about 1°C over the 20th century). Almost all nations have committed to limit total global warming to less than 2°C over preindustrial levels, with an aspirational target of 1.5°C. However, meeting a 2°C target is becoming more and more challenging; most integrated assessment models project that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere would have to stop increasing by the second half of the century to have a chance of limiting global warming to 2°C.
Negative Emissions Technologies (NETs) are technologies that remove carbon from the atmosphere and sequester it. They gain in interest each time CO2 atmospheric concentration are measured, as there is no decrease nor stabilization of this concentration expected in the next years. They are an essential component of the mitigation portfolio. NETs cover both biological processes, such as terrestrial carbon sequestration, or Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Sequestration (BECCS), and industrial processes, like CO2 mineralization or Direct Air Capture and Sequestration (DACS). Depending of the implemented technology, environmental impacts are likely to occur, because of utilities consumption, nutrients and water needs, etc. Such externalities have to be assessed to have a global overview of the pros and the cons of each technology.
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), is a methodology that quantifies all the flows extracted from and disposed to the environment throughout the product’s life cycle phases: raw material extraction, manufacturing, use, end-of-life treatment and final disposal; including transportation in all phases. The LCA results provide useful information of a product and / or technology environmental performance enabling comparisons to alternative products by means of the functional unit. The holistic assessment of each life cycle step enables identifying hotspots and thus avoids problem shifting along the supply chains and between the different impacts assessed.
Scope of work
The purpose of this post-doctoral project is to assess the environmental impacts of different NETs. It will address the following topics:
- Realize LCAs of different "NETs, such as BECCS, DACCS, afforestation, carbon integration in soils... A focus will be done on the agricultural step of BECCS / afforestation (characterization of inputs needed: water, fertilizers, pesticides, following different management sequences).
- Integrate temporal dynamics in the assessment of climate change. In the last decade, LCA researchers have developed dynamic methods addressing time dependent impacts as a function of time, yet restricted principally to the IPCC GWP indicator. Dynamic LCIA considers the timing of an emission occurrence by means of temporal differentiated emission profiles. A special attention will be paid to the different existing approaches which assess the emissions and / or the sequestration of biogenic carbon, with a focus on crop rotation dynamics and time horizon of the assessment.
- Apply sensitivity and uncertainty analysis to NETs. Data for NETs suffer gaps and incomplete information. Therefore research is needed to include quantification of uncertainty and methods of application for such emerging, low-TRL technologies. Comparison of local (partial matrix based derivatives) and global sensitivity analysis (Sobol index, Monte Carlo sampling) could be performed.
- Extend the analysis to large-scale development. Classical LCA attributes effects (environmental impacts) occurring in various supply chains to a specific product. However, such assessments provide limited basis for assessing long term technology transformation pathways Environmental impacts assessment should go beyond the analysis of individual chains, as it is important to understand the potential impacts that could appear due to industrial deployment. Indirect effect such as land use change will be analyzed, depending on the type of technologies and on the scale of expansion.