Balancing Energy and Environment: A Life Cycle Assessment Perspective

A special issue of Environments (ISSN 2076-3298).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 20 June 2024 | Viewed by 663

Special Issue Editors

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Guest Editor
School of Biosystems & Food Engineering, University College Dublin, Belfield, D18 DH50 Dublin, Ireland
Interests: life cycle assessment; environmental analysis; bioenergy production; biomass feedstock; food residues; waste valorisation

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Biosystems & Food Engineering, University College Dublin, Belfield, D18 DH50 Dublin, Ireland
Interests: life cycle assessment; sustainability of food systems; livestock production; dairy processing; agricultural waste valorization; resource depletion; carbon footprint; water quality; soil quality and social impacts

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Guest Editor
VITO – EnergyVille, Unit Smart Energy and Built Environment (SEB), Thor Park 8310, 3600 Genk, Belgium
Interests: life cycle assessment; life cycle sustainability assessment; energy systems; renewable energy
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Environmental Modeling & Monitoring Laboratory (LAMMAM), Federal University of Pampa, UNIPAMPA, Caçapava do Sul, RS, Brazil
Interests: life cycle assessment; carbon footprint; GHG inventory; biofuel; biomass feedstock; coal mining

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The world stands at a crossroads where our choices profoundly impact the planet's future. Climate change, driven by human activities, has led to more frequent and severe weather events, disrupted ecosystems, and rising sea levels. Simultaneously, biodiversity loss, deforestation, and pollution are undermining the Earth's natural resilience. Amid these challenges, the quest for sustainable energy sources and practices has emerged as a linchpin in our efforts to mitigate and adapt to these environmental crises. In this context, this special issue aspires to delve deep into the confluence of energy and environmental sustainability, offering a fresh perspective through the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) prism. By adopting the life cycle perspective, we can unearth hidden trade-offs, uncover sustainable alternatives, and chart a course toward a more resilient and ecologically harmonious future.

We warmly invite researchers, academics, and practitioners from a wide spectrum of fields, encompassing qualitative, quantitative, mixed-methods, and modeling approaches to engage in a dialogue that transcends disciplinary boundaries. We invite you to share your expertise, findings, and innovative ideas in this special issue, where your work will reach a global audience of researchers, policymakers, and industry professionals.

The Special Issue will seek papers that examine applications, impact, and implications of multi-disciplinary approaches that explore the dynamic relationship between energy and environmental sustainability, fostering collaboration and knowledge exchange. Potential topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Renewable Energy Technologies
  • Solar and Wind energy
  • Hydrogen systems
  • Waste-to-Energy
  • Bioenergy and Biomass
  • Bioenergy Feedstocks
  • Thermochemical conversion
  • Biofuels for Transportation
  • Energy Efficiency Measures
  • Energy Storage Systems and Batteries
  • Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)
  • Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Systems
  • Socioeconomic Aspects in the LCA of Energy Systems
  • Policy and Regulation

Together, we can illuminate pathways toward cleaner energy production, resource-efficient consumption, and a regenerative relationship with our environment.

Dr. Tamíris Da Costa
Prof. Dr. Nick Holden
Dr. Daniele Costa
Prof. Dr. Mateus Guimarães da Silva
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Environments is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • sustainable energy
  • life cycle assessment
  • environmental impact
  • carbon footprint
  • climate change
  • resource efficiency
  • circular economy
  • case studies
  • modeling approaches
  • cleaner production

Published Papers (1 paper)

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24 pages, 1545 KiB  
Critical Review of Life Cycle Assessment of Hydrogen Production Pathways
by Manfredi Picciotto Maniscalco, Sonia Longo, Maurizio Cellura, Gabriele Miccichè and Marco Ferraro
Environments 2024, 11(6), 108; - 24 May 2024
Viewed by 97
In light of growing concerns regarding greenhouse gas emissions and the increasingly severe impacts of climate change, the global situation demands immediate action to transition towards sustainable energy solutions. In this sense, hydrogen could play a fundamental role in the energy transition, offering [...] Read more.
In light of growing concerns regarding greenhouse gas emissions and the increasingly severe impacts of climate change, the global situation demands immediate action to transition towards sustainable energy solutions. In this sense, hydrogen could play a fundamental role in the energy transition, offering a potential clean and versatile energy carrier. This paper reviews the recent results of Life Cycle Assessment studies of different hydrogen production pathways, which are trying to define the routes that can guarantee the least environmental burdens. Steam methane reforming was considered as the benchmark for Global Warming Potential, with an average emission of 11 kgCO2eq/kgH2. Hydrogen produced from water electrolysis powered by renewable energy (green H2) or nuclear energy (pink H2) showed the average lowest impacts, with mean values of 2.02 kgCO2eq/kgH2 and 0.41 kgCO2eq/kgH2, respectively. The use of grid electricity to power the electrolyzer (yellow H2) raised the mean carbon footprint up to 17.2 kgCO2eq/kgH2, with a peak of 41.4 kgCO2eq/kgH2 in the case of countries with low renewable energy production. Waste pyrolysis and/or gasification presented average emissions three times higher than steam methane reforming, while the recourse to residual biomass and biowaste significantly lowered greenhouse gas emissions. The acidification potential presents comparable results for all the technologies studied, except for biomass gasification which showed significantly higher and more scattered values. Regarding the abiotic depletion potential (mineral), the main issue is the lack of an established recycling strategy, especially for electrolysis technologies that hamper the inclusion of the End of Life stage in LCA computation. Whenever data were available, hotspots for each hydrogen production process were identified. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Balancing Energy and Environment: A Life Cycle Assessment Perspective)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Plan paper 1
Authors:Stefania Pindozzi, Elena Cervelli and Ester Scotto di Perta
Affiliations: Department of Agricultural Sciences University of Naples Federico II
This paper works on the siting of anaerobic digestion plants in a very highly livestock-populated area.
The paper will be also devoted to the assessment of the actual energy production considering proper manure management and treatment strategy.
Plan paper 2
Tentative title: Circular Economy: a network analysis of the recyclable solid waste collection in the city of Rome (Italy)
Authors: Franco Medici and Giorgio Tosato
Affiliations: DICMA Department of Chemical Engineering, Materials and Environment, "Sapienza" University of Roma (Italy)
Preliminary abstract: Separate collection of the municipal solid waste in the city of Roma represents a problem of particular interest due the urban dimension (1287 kmq) and the total amount of waste produced.  We propose to develop a targeted analysis to optimize the delivery of waste collection centres. Furthermore, we want  to highlight in the paper which materials can advantageously be recycled as a part of the Life Cycle Assessment process.
Plan paper 3
Authors: Jukka Heinonen, Anna Kristín Einarsdóttir, Kevin J Dillman, Marta karlsdottir
Affiliations: Sustainable Built Environment, Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Iceland, Iceland.
This paper works on the consumption-based energy footprints in Iceland and how they compare to global levels and to considerations about energy sufficiency.
Plan paper 4
Tentative title: A review of Life Cycle Sustainability Analyses of waste to energy systems in the developing world
Authors: Oluwaseun O. Nubi, Stephen Morse, Richard J. Murphy
Affiliations: Centre for Environment and Sustainability, University of Surrey.
This paper works on the use of Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment (LCSA) to measure the sustainability of Waste to Energy (WtE) systems, especially in the developing world.
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