Note: I will provide all the materials/articles mentioned below.
This assignment involves preparing a 10-13 page review of two LCA studies. Specifically, you will act as a critical reviewer of the following two "LCA" studies on corn ethanol:
- Kim, S., Dale, B.E., & Jenkins, R. (2009). Life cycle assessment of corn grain and corn stover in the United States. Int J Life Cycle Assess. 14:160–174. [PDF]
-Pimentel, D., & Patzek, T.W. (2005). Ethanol Production Using Corn, Switchgrass, and Wood; Biodiesel Production Using Soybean and Sunflower. Natural Resources Research. 14 (1): 65-76. [PDF]
You will prepare a 4 to 5 page critical review for each of the papers, using the ISO LCA framework and standards as a guideline to what each of the papers should include in executing and presenting their LCA results. Each critical review will be a stand-alone review and you should see yourself as an external reviewer whose role is to provide comments to the authors on how well they have followed the ISO standards, where additional work could be done in order to improve their study, and whether they have followed best practices. You should refer to academic or other literature on ethanol or biofuels to substantiate your recommendations to the authors on best practices for LCA studies.
Additionally, you will provide a separate 2 to 3 page analysis comparing the quality of the two studies and critically evaluating each study's usefulness for decision-making around implementation of ethanol regulations. Assessment of their usefulness should include consideration of the goal and scope of the study, the interpretation, and the overall quality of the study.
In preparing your critical review, you should consider whether the studies follow the ISO standards. The following resources may be useful:
- ISO LCA standards
- Chapter 7, pp. 203-212 and "Exercise G", p. 401, Hitchhiker's Guide to LCA.
- Weidema, B. (2010). Guidelines for critical review of product LCA ([url removed, login to view])
- Background to Ethanol lifecycle: US DOE. (2007). Ethanol: The complete energy lifecycle picture. (PDF)
Below are some of the questions you should consider when reviewing the studies, but this is not an exhaustive list. You should refer to the ISO standards and to the description for the group project as a guideline for what should be included in the LCA studies.
-Is the goal clearly stated?
-Is the scope well defined? Are boundaries and functional units or reference flows properly defined and appropriate for the study? Are the data used of sufficient quality to meet goal of study? Are assumptions clearly stated?
-Is the life cycle impact assessment methodology based on best practices? Is it defined clearly?
-Is the life cycle interpretation and recommendations in line with the goal and scope of the study? Were sensitivity analysis conducted?
For referencing, use APA.
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