Expansion of Petroleum Refinery Model for Life Cycle Assessment

Photo of a Petroleum Refinery

Project Brief

The Challenge

Petroleum refining is a significant contributor to the environmental life cycle impact of transportation fuels. The existing open-source model for assessing life cycle impacts from this sector accounted for greenhouse gas emissions, but not other environmental impacts. The National Energy Technology Laboratory sought ERG’s expertise in emissions data and energy systems to expand the model.

ERG's Solution

ERG identified publicly available emissions and production data for the petroleum refinery sector from federal agencies including the Energy Information Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. We cross-referenced facilities across datasets to assess the scope of emissions from specific process units within facilities. Using these data, ERG developed air and water emission factors for over a dozen process units and services, reflecting U.S. refinery conditions, for incorporation into the refinery model. Further, ERG incorporated a data export template for use in LCA software by other practitioners. The methods and results of this work were published in a peer-reviewed article in Environmental Science & Technology.


National Energy Technology Laboratory