Energy intensity, life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions, and economic assessment of liquid biofuel pipelines

Petroleum fuels are predominantly transported domestically by pipelines, whereas biofuels are almost exclusively transported by rail, barge, and truck. As biofuel production increases, new pipelines may become economically attractive. Location-specific variables impacting pipeline viability include construction costs, availability and costs of alternative transportation modes, electricity prices and emissions (if priced), throughput, and subsurface temperature. When transporting alcohol or diesel-like fuels, pipelines have a lower direct energy intensity than rail, barge, and trucks if fluid velocity is under 1 m/s for 4-inch diameter pipelines and 2 m/s for 8-inch or larger pipelines. Across multiple hypothetical state-specific scenarios, profit-maximizing design velocities range from 1.2 to 1.9 m/s. In costs and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, optimized pipelines outperform trucks in each state and rail and barge in most states, if projected throughput exceeds four billion liters/year. If emissions are priced, optimum design diameters typically increase to reduce pumping energy demands, increasing the cost-effectiveness of pipeline projects.


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  • Accession Number: 01530807
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 3 2014 2:57PM