Just the tonic! Legume biorefining for alcohol has the potential to reduce Europe’s protein deficit and mitigate climate change

Theophile Leinhardt, Kirsty Black, Sophie Saget, Marcela Porto Costa, David Chadwick, Robert M. Rees, Michael Williams, Charles Spillane, Pietro Iannetta, Graeme M. Walker, David Styles*

*Corresponding author for this work

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    Abstract

    Industrialised agriculture is heavily reliant upon synthetic nitrogen fertilisers and imported protein feeds, posing environmental and food security challenges. Increasing the cultivation of leguminous crops that biologically fix nitrogen and provide high protein feed and food could help to address these challenges. We report on the innovative use of an important leguminous crop, pea (Pisum sativum L.), as a source of starch for alcohol (gin) production, yielding protein-rich animal feed as a co-product. We undertook life cycle assessment (LCA) to compare the environmental footprint of 1 L of packaged gin produced from either 1.43 kg of wheat grain or 2.42 kg of peas via fermentation and distillation into neutral spirit. Allocated environmental footprints for pea-gin were smaller than for wheat-gin across 12 of 14 environmental impact categories considered. Global warming, resource depletion, human toxicity, acidification and terrestrial eutrophication footprints were, respectively, 12%, 15%, 15%, 48% and 68% smaller, but direct land occupation was 112% greater, for pea-gin versus wheat-gin. Expansion of LCA boundaries indicated that co-products arising from the production of 1 L of wheat- or pea-gin could substitute up to 0.33 or 0.66 kg soybean animal feed, respectively, mitigating considerable greenhouse gas emissions associated with land clearing, cultivation, processing and transport of such feed. For pea-gin, this mitigation effect exceeds emissions from gin production and packaging, so that each L of bottled pea gin avoids 2.2 kg CO2 eq. There is great potential to scale the use of legume starches in production of alcoholic beverages and biofuels, reducing dependence on Latin American soybean associated with deforestation and offering considerable global mitigation potential in terms of climate change and nutrient leakage — estimated at circa 439 Tg CO2 eq. and 8.45 Tg N eq. annually.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number104870
    Number of pages11
    JournalEnvironment International
    Volume130
    Early online date18 Jun 2019
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2019

    Fingerprint

    alcohol
    wheat
    footprint
    climate change
    protein
    starch
    soybean
    mitigation
    life cycle
    resource depletion
    crop
    animal
    nitrogen
    food security
    distillation
    biofuel
    deforestation
    fermentation
    leakage
    acidification

    Cite this

    Leinhardt, Theophile ; Black, Kirsty ; Saget, Sophie ; Porto Costa, Marcela ; Chadwick, David ; Rees, Robert M. ; Williams, Michael ; Spillane, Charles ; Iannetta, Pietro ; Walker, Graeme M. ; Styles, David. / Just the tonic! Legume biorefining for alcohol has the potential to reduce Europe’s protein deficit and mitigate climate change. In: Environment International. 2019 ; Vol. 130.
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    abstract = "Industrialised agriculture is heavily reliant upon synthetic nitrogen fertilisers and imported protein feeds, posing environmental and food security challenges. Increasing the cultivation of leguminous crops that biologically fix nitrogen and provide high protein feed and food could help to address these challenges. We report on the innovative use of an important leguminous crop, pea (Pisum sativum L.), as a source of starch for alcohol (gin) production, yielding protein-rich animal feed as a co-product. We undertook life cycle assessment (LCA) to compare the environmental footprint of 1 L of packaged gin produced from either 1.43 kg of wheat grain or 2.42 kg of peas via fermentation and distillation into neutral spirit. Allocated environmental footprints for pea-gin were smaller than for wheat-gin across 12 of 14 environmental impact categories considered. Global warming, resource depletion, human toxicity, acidification and terrestrial eutrophication footprints were, respectively, 12{\%}, 15{\%}, 15{\%}, 48{\%} and 68{\%} smaller, but direct land occupation was 112{\%} greater, for pea-gin versus wheat-gin. Expansion of LCA boundaries indicated that co-products arising from the production of 1 L of wheat- or pea-gin could substitute up to 0.33 or 0.66 kg soybean animal feed, respectively, mitigating considerable greenhouse gas emissions associated with land clearing, cultivation, processing and transport of such feed. For pea-gin, this mitigation effect exceeds emissions from gin production and packaging, so that each L of bottled pea gin avoids 2.2 kg CO2 eq. There is great potential to scale the use of legume starches in production of alcoholic beverages and biofuels, reducing dependence on Latin American soybean associated with deforestation and offering considerable global mitigation potential in terms of climate change and nutrient leakage — estimated at circa 439 Tg CO2 eq. and 8.45 Tg N eq. annually.",
    author = "Theophile Leinhardt and Kirsty Black and Sophie Saget and {Porto Costa}, Marcela and David Chadwick and Rees, {Robert M.} and Michael Williams and Charles Spillane and Pietro Iannetta and Walker, {Graeme M.} and David Styles",
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    Just the tonic! Legume biorefining for alcohol has the potential to reduce Europe’s protein deficit and mitigate climate change. / Leinhardt, Theophile; Black, Kirsty; Saget, Sophie; Porto Costa, Marcela; Chadwick, David; Rees, Robert M.; Williams, Michael; Spillane, Charles; Iannetta, Pietro; Walker, Graeme M.; Styles, David.

    In: Environment International, Vol. 130, 104870, 09.2019.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - Just the tonic! Legume biorefining for alcohol has the potential to reduce Europe’s protein deficit and mitigate climate change

    AU - Leinhardt, Theophile

    AU - Black, Kirsty

    AU - Saget, Sophie

    AU - Porto Costa, Marcela

    AU - Chadwick, David

    AU - Rees, Robert M.

    AU - Williams, Michael

    AU - Spillane, Charles

    AU - Iannetta, Pietro

    AU - Walker, Graeme M.

    AU - Styles, David

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    N2 - Industrialised agriculture is heavily reliant upon synthetic nitrogen fertilisers and imported protein feeds, posing environmental and food security challenges. Increasing the cultivation of leguminous crops that biologically fix nitrogen and provide high protein feed and food could help to address these challenges. We report on the innovative use of an important leguminous crop, pea (Pisum sativum L.), as a source of starch for alcohol (gin) production, yielding protein-rich animal feed as a co-product. We undertook life cycle assessment (LCA) to compare the environmental footprint of 1 L of packaged gin produced from either 1.43 kg of wheat grain or 2.42 kg of peas via fermentation and distillation into neutral spirit. Allocated environmental footprints for pea-gin were smaller than for wheat-gin across 12 of 14 environmental impact categories considered. Global warming, resource depletion, human toxicity, acidification and terrestrial eutrophication footprints were, respectively, 12%, 15%, 15%, 48% and 68% smaller, but direct land occupation was 112% greater, for pea-gin versus wheat-gin. Expansion of LCA boundaries indicated that co-products arising from the production of 1 L of wheat- or pea-gin could substitute up to 0.33 or 0.66 kg soybean animal feed, respectively, mitigating considerable greenhouse gas emissions associated with land clearing, cultivation, processing and transport of such feed. For pea-gin, this mitigation effect exceeds emissions from gin production and packaging, so that each L of bottled pea gin avoids 2.2 kg CO2 eq. There is great potential to scale the use of legume starches in production of alcoholic beverages and biofuels, reducing dependence on Latin American soybean associated with deforestation and offering considerable global mitigation potential in terms of climate change and nutrient leakage — estimated at circa 439 Tg CO2 eq. and 8.45 Tg N eq. annually.

    AB - Industrialised agriculture is heavily reliant upon synthetic nitrogen fertilisers and imported protein feeds, posing environmental and food security challenges. Increasing the cultivation of leguminous crops that biologically fix nitrogen and provide high protein feed and food could help to address these challenges. We report on the innovative use of an important leguminous crop, pea (Pisum sativum L.), as a source of starch for alcohol (gin) production, yielding protein-rich animal feed as a co-product. We undertook life cycle assessment (LCA) to compare the environmental footprint of 1 L of packaged gin produced from either 1.43 kg of wheat grain or 2.42 kg of peas via fermentation and distillation into neutral spirit. Allocated environmental footprints for pea-gin were smaller than for wheat-gin across 12 of 14 environmental impact categories considered. Global warming, resource depletion, human toxicity, acidification and terrestrial eutrophication footprints were, respectively, 12%, 15%, 15%, 48% and 68% smaller, but direct land occupation was 112% greater, for pea-gin versus wheat-gin. Expansion of LCA boundaries indicated that co-products arising from the production of 1 L of wheat- or pea-gin could substitute up to 0.33 or 0.66 kg soybean animal feed, respectively, mitigating considerable greenhouse gas emissions associated with land clearing, cultivation, processing and transport of such feed. For pea-gin, this mitigation effect exceeds emissions from gin production and packaging, so that each L of bottled pea gin avoids 2.2 kg CO2 eq. There is great potential to scale the use of legume starches in production of alcoholic beverages and biofuels, reducing dependence on Latin American soybean associated with deforestation and offering considerable global mitigation potential in terms of climate change and nutrient leakage — estimated at circa 439 Tg CO2 eq. and 8.45 Tg N eq. annually.

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    DO - 10.1016/j.envint.2019.05.064

    M3 - Article

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