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Carbon Footprint of Corn Ethanol

Corn Ethanol Reduces GHG Emissions 32% Compared to Petroleum

Carbon Footprint of Corn EthanolAverage corn ethanol reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 32 percent compared to average petroleum in 2012, according to a study commissioned by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and conducted by Life Cycle Associates.

This estimate includes prospective emissions from indirect land use change (ILUC) for corn ethanol. When compared to marginal petroleum sources like tight oil from fracking and oil sands, average corn ethanol reduces GHG emissions by 37 percent to 40 percent.

By 2022, average corn ethanol reduces GHG emissions by 43 percent to 60 percent compared to petroleum, the study found.

The study also says the GHG analysis conducted by the EPA for the expanded Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) regulations has “several fundamental flaws.” Corn ethanol was already reducing GHG emissions by 21 percent compared to gasoline in 2005, according to RFA’s analysis; the EPA’s analysis for the RFS2 assumes corn ethanol GHG reductions won’t reach 21 percent until 2022.

The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) has warned the EPA that its proposal to slash mandated corn ethanol production by 1.4 billion gallons this year will hurt the biofuels industry. At the EPA’s hearing last month for the 2014 RFS, BIO testified that that commercial development of advanced and cellulosic biofuels, as well as other biotechnology applications, could come to a halt if the EPA’s proposal becomes policy.





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7 thoughts on “Corn Ethanol Reduces GHG Emissions 32% Compared to Petroleum

  1. Can not believe you guys wrote this. It is soooo incorrect.
    Time Magazine called E85 “The Clean Energy Myth.”
    Al Gore called corn based ethanol fuel “a mistake” & confessed that he fell so hard for it because he “had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa.”
    Why? To make 1 gallon of E85 it takes:
    1) It takes more than 1 gallon of diesel fuel (plow, plant, cultivate add fertilizer & pesticide, & harvest,
    2) 1,400 gallons of potable water,
    3) Natural gas to distill the mash several times to remove water,
    4) To haul, via truck (not pipeable), to CA requires more energy that it contains,
    5) E85 dispenser costs $140K,
    6) E85 use drove corn prices up 375%,
    7) E85 reduces mpg 27%
    8) E85 reduces hp 17%,
    9) Vehicle running E85 range reduced 32% vs gasoline, so cars need to be refueled more often, wasting time & fuel,
    10) E85 produces aldehyde emissions, which cause CANCER!
    Dougie Troll, please explain this loss of info needed for valid E.L. article.
    Read quickly, E.L. editor will not like being corrected.

  2. Have you ever noticed how CO2good is unable to back up any of his statements and claims with references to objective and reliable sources? And since they are free of any reliable references, his so-called ‘facts’ are almost always suspect – as is the case here.
    Can anyone actually swallow his overall implication: that ethanol costs more energy to obtain than it delivers? Are ethanol developers, investors who finance ethanol development, and regulators of ethanol development; all really so stupid as to pursue such a losing proposition? After all, if it really cost more than one gallon of diesel to produce one gallon of ethanol; then developers and investors would actually be losing money on every gallon produced (after all, they have to buy that gallon+ of diesel that is supposedly used). Is anybody buying CO2good’s bridge here? Or how about this one: “To haul, via truck (not pipeable), to CA requires more energy that it contains”? Anybody willing to believe that lie? Ethanol contains nearly an equivalent amount of energy per gallon as does gasoline, but CO2good doesn’t blink an eye when contemplating the everyday occurrence of gasoline being trucked around the country (1 gallon of E85 has about 78% of the energy of one gallon of gasoline – source http://www.afdc.energy.gov/fuels/fuel_comparison_chart.pdf). Or this one: “E85 use drove corn prices up 375%”? It didn’t – have you noticed that corn is costing you nearly 4 times as much as it did in the past? You haven’t, have you – because this is nothing more than another CO2good lie.
    I could go on to debunk nearly every item in this new (but still sad) list that CO2good has crafted.

    This whole CO2good post is just another example of the depths he seems willing to sink to; in order to continue his attacks against all things that represent potential alternatives to the fossil-fuel-conglomerate business-as-usual approach. His unthinking diatribes must surely be sincerely appreciated by ExxonMobil and others. But surely, CO2good, you can do better than this. Can’t you?

  3. Couldn’t resist this low-hanging piece of fruit: CO2good is so concerned that “E85 produces aldehyde emissions, which cause CANCER!” – GASP. Except, oops, let me see here – gasoline produces all sorts of emissions which likewise “cause CANCER!”

  4. Well, Dougie Troll finally got something right.
    Since 1975 the EPA has required catalytic converters on all cars & trucks.
    Natrually, Dougie thinks these converters teleport harmful emissions into another dimension, one inhabitted by non-believers.
    Well, actually, extra fuel is added to the engine, in order to operate the converters, as they need to be at least 1200 degrees to do their magic. So, mpg goes down, as does hp.
    But, here’s the part Dougie will have a fit over, these magic converters emit HCN (cyanide = poison), HS (Hydrogen Sulfide, a chemical warfare agent), & phosgene gas (a chemical warfare agent).
    But, combined, the toxic effect is far more than the sum of the parts.
    No wonder accidents have not gone down, so more expensive car designs are necessary (i.e. air bags, crash tests, crumple zones, …) drivers are being poisoned, increasing the effects of alcohol and drowziness.
    Now, Dougie Troll, give us some nice EPA URLs to explain away the truth, again.
    Oh, and the converters, which contain precious metals that can/have cost as much as $8,000/Toz, increase the price of the vehicles, repairs, fuel, and insurance.
    Such environmental wisedom. I am impressed.

  5. Whereas I am simply amused. Amused because, once again, CO2good has reacted with a posting that has nothing whatsoever in common with the original article, nor with the subsequent discussion.
    Catalytic converters were never even mentioned in the article, nor were they mentioned in CO2good’s original erroneous posting, nor were they mentioned in my reply.
    Another attempt at obfuscation, CO2good? Another attempt to deflect the conversation when you are caught in yet more lies?

  6. What about the production of a biofuel that has a greater than 60% reduction in carbon footprint? Algenol Biofuels’ patented technology enables the production of the four most important fuels (ethanol, gasoline, jet, and diesel fuel) for around $1.27 per gallon each by using proprietary algae, sunlight, carbon dioxide and saltwater at production levels of 9,100 total gallons of liquid fuel per acre per year. A yield that far exceeds the approximately 420 gallons of ethanol, per acre/per year produced by corn. Algenol’s novel, low-cost techniques have the added benefit of consuming carbon dioxide from industrial sources, not using farmland or food crops and being able to provide freshwater.

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