This paper seeks to present the research methodology for a research study investigating reduction of air pollution using bio fuels as form renewable energy. The environmental influences of bio-fuels such as corn ethanol have been cause for much debate in recent years. The debate has largely been informed by the disagreements concerning the research methods employed in assessing the impacts under investigation. Another issue which has served to compromise previous research studies is founded on the fact that there are many assumptions incorporated in previous research studies due to the prevalence of incomplete data. This particular research study seeks to contrast bio-ethanol systems with conventional fuels using the life cycle assessment (LCA) criterion.
Previous research studies have emphasized on greenhouse gases and net energy and as such, system boundaries and the divergent assumptions applied point out that there are differences in scope of study approaches. This research study will involve field studies for the collection of data from different locations and the subsequent lab experiences for analysis. The lab experiments will be of great significance owing to the associated internal validity. As such, it is envisaged that the cause and effect affiliations can be best observed within a laboratory environment since it is a man made and controllable setting. Different elements will be assessed as the units for analysis. The elements will include soil, ecosystem services, biodiversity, water quality, GHG emission, air quality, water quantity and consumption use.
As such, this particular research study will also present a general overview of LCA methodology normally employed in the assessment of the environmental impacts associated with the production and use of biofuels. By examining the contemporary breadth of knowledge about significant environmental effects, this outcome of the research endeavor will be to further discuss specific environmental impacts. This will be applicable relative to combustion, conversion to biofuels, feedstock production, as well as the entire lifecycle of biofuel applications as well as production. The methods utilized in the assessment of environmental impacts and the observed effects or forecasted results in peer reviewed literature will also be presented. It is expected that the availability of data and associated deficiencies will present gaps among the prevalent modeling platforms. This implies that a level of uncertainty will exist in the assessment of different environmental aspects.
This research study will employ regional environmental evaluations concerning biofuels production. This is in essence due to the fact that biofuel production impacts are basically location specific. The resultant findings as well as conclusions sourced from the regional environmental evaluations may tend to vary from an evaluation considering the cumulative impacts across an entire state or country.
The LCA tool is highly appropriate for the quantification of environmental impacts of biofuels as renewable energy. In previous research studies, it has been noted that there is generally an extensive misinterpretations of results. This is mainly due to the various assessment methods employed and as such, this has brought about some considerable degrees of confusion regarding this issue. This is especially the case when particular assumptions and frameworks fail to be mentioned or accorded due credit regarding the form of analysis used.
There are two different but significant approaches towards using the LCA criterion. These two approaches are the consequential and attributional approaches.
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