Prospective Life Cycle Assessment of a Cobalt Fischer-Tropsch Catalyst

Research output: Unpublished contribution to conferenceUnpublished abstract


The Fischer-Tropsch (FT) catalyst production, use, and end-of-life phases are often omitted or simplified in Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) on FT products since the data required to model these stages are generally not publicly available. Consequently, the effects of the catalyst on the whole life cycle of FT liquids are not known. This study presents the prospective LCA of a novel Co-based FT catalyst, in the scope of the REDIFUEL project (funded by European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement no. 817612). The main objectives were to evaluate different future production pathways and identify a best-case and a worst-case scenario. The foreground was modelled with upscaled data from lab-scale experiments and patents. Different hydrogen production sources were considered, and the effects of two different end-of-life scenarios (regeneration and recycling) were analyzed. The assessment considered the years 2030 and 2050 and a superstructure prospective background database was constructed with the Python library premise. The selected storylines for this database were the SSP2-base (no climate policy) and SSP2-pkbudg900 (1.5 °C climate target). The results showed that the climate change impact of the catalyst depends mainly on the end-of-life scenario chosen. Regeneration and direct reuse of the catalyst led to a 65-80% lower impact than recycling. Using different background scenarios lowered the impact by 10% (SSP2-Base-2030) to 38% (SSPS2-PkBudg900-2050) compared to the Ecoinvent database. The hydrogen source affected the results too. Of all options, H2 from auto thermal reforming of natural gas had the highest impact. The best case for Co-based FT catalyst production is the scenario with regeneration at the end-of-life and ATR of biomass for hydrogen production consumed in all processes. In the worst-case, the catalyst is recycled with metal recovery, while the hydrogen is produced via auto thermal reforming of natural gas. Although the prospective background database had an important effect on the results, the different end-of-life options were more influential, making this life cycle stage the primary concern of a prospective LCA of Co-based catalysts. The next steps in this work are analyzing other environmental impact categories and assessing the contribution of the FT catalyst to the bioproducts life cycle.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2022
EventSETAC Europe : 32nd Annual Meeting - Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 15 May 202219 May 2022


ConferenceSETAC Europe
Internet address


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