Biofuel Models

Biofuels Models

I have developed or co-developed several models related to the life cycle assessment of biofuels. EBAMM, BEACCON, and GBAMM are all derivatives of GREET, developed for specific purposes, such as meta-model comparisons (EBAMM and GBAMM) or biorefinery technology and cost comparisons (BEACCON).

All of these open-source models were developed in Excel® and are accompanied by peer-reviewed papers. Download links are provided below.

RFMI - Reduced-form Model of Indirect Land-use Change

Plevin, R. J., M. O'Hare, A. D. Jones, M. S. Torn and H. K. Gibbs (2010). The greenhouse gas emissions from market-mediated land use change are uncertain, but potentially much greater than previously estimated. Environmental Science & Technology 44(21): 8015-8021.

RFMI is a simple 9-parameter model of emissions from indirect land use change, which I exercise using Monte Carlo simulation to examine the shape of possible frequency distributions for ILUC emissions. Download the model: RFMI_pub_v1.xlsm (205 KB)

BTIME - Biofuel Time-Integrated Model of Emissions

O'Hare, M., Plevin, R. J., Martin, J., Hopson, E., Jones, A. D., & Kendall, A. (2009), Proper accounting for time in LCA increases crop-competitive GHG deficit relative to petroleum. Environ. Res. Lett. 4(024001).

BTIME estimates a novel measure of biofuel GHG performance modeled after the IPCC's Global Warming Potential (for better and worse.) The model tracks the cumulative CO2 emitted overthe life cycle of biofuel--including assumed emissions from indirect land use change--and gasoline, accounting for the time of emissions and atmospheric decay of CO2. For more details, see the paper and model, downloadable from the RAEL website.

GBAMM - GREET-BESS Analysis Meta-Model

Plevin, R. J. (2009). Modeling Corn Ethanol and Climate: A critical comparison of the BESS and GREET models. Journal of Industrial Ecology 13(4).

GBAMM is conceptually similar to the EBAMM model (discussed below). Where EBAMM was developed to compare six studies of the energy and GHG balances of corn ethanol, GBAMM was developed to compare two specific models, BESS and GREET. However, while EBAMM compared net energy models of ethanol, providing GHG accounting based on GREET, GBAMM compares two models of the GHG balances of ethanol, and thus compares GHG emission factors as well.

The model and paper can be downloaded from this site.

BEACCON - Biofuels Emissions And Cost CONnection

Plevin, R. J. and S. Mueller (2008). The effect of CO2 regulations on the cost of corn ethanol production. Environ. Res. Lett. 3(024003).

BEACCON allows ethanol producers to evaluate the potential impacts on production costs of the global warming intensity (GWI) of different biofuel production pathways. Version 1.0 of the model focuses on ethanol plants with a capacity of 100 million gallons per year. BEACCON may be downloaded free of charge.

BEACCON calculates the production costs of ethanol taking into account plant capital costs, corn costs, energy feedstock costs, labor, chemicals, and other cost components, as well as energy system costs taking into account energy system capital costs, thermal fuel and electricity feedstocks. It also calculates the GWI of ethanol on a life cycle basis by major contributing components: agricultural phase, thermal energy feedstocks, and grid electricity.

EBAMM - ERG Biofuels Analysis Meta-Model

Farrell, A. E., R. J. Plevin, B. T. Turner, A. J. Jones, M. O'Hare, and D. K. Kammen (2006). Ethanol Can Contribute to Energy and Environmental Goals. Science 311: 506-508.

EBAMM was developed to understand the large divergence between studies of the net energy balance of corn ethanol. The model puts six studies into a common framework, converts all data to international standard (SI) units, and establishes consistent system boundaries -- all of which are prerequisites to comparing results and identifying differences among the models.

The paper, supporting materials, and the model are downloadable from the RAEL site. This paper was highlighted by ScienceWatch as a "core paper in the research front map of ethanol biofuels".