Tool assesses sustainability of biofuel production

An online tool to assess the sustainability of biofuel production has been developed by researchers in Switzerland and Germany.

The tool has been developed at Empa (Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology), Swiss Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB) and HTW Berlin.

The new tool reportedly allows users to perform a self-assessment against the principles and criteria of the RSB and a self-risk assessment.

The online tool also calculates greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of biofuels for each lifecycle production step, from farming to final fuel distribution; a calculation that can be done according to various methodologies.

Such calculations are complex and require a sound knowledge in biofuels’ life cycle assessment (LCA). To facilitate the RSB certification process, Empa and HTW Berlin developed a web-based tool allowing for the online calculation of biofuels’ GHG emissions.

Various GHG calculation methods are implemented, including the Swiss standard (for mineral-oil tax relief), the European Renewable Energy Directive (RED) standard, the Californian standard and the RSB standard.

By allowing a risk assessment of biofuels production and an evaluation based on the RSB sustainability principles, the tool forms the entry point to the RSB sustainability certification.

‘As such, the tool is targeted at all stakeholders in the biofuels sector, ranging from energy crop farmers and biofuel producers to traders who want to demonstrate the sustainability of their products,’ said Empa researcher Rainer Zah, who led the project.

The tool is freely available online and can be used by anyone wanting to perform lifecycle GHG calculations of biofuels or assess their biofuel operations. It allows the user to conduct a self-assessment against the RSB principles and criteria, and a self-risk assessment against the RSB Standard for Risk Management.

Access the free tool here.

More information on the RSB can be found here.