Published On Mar 04, 2022
Using Corn For Fuel Seems Like A Dumb Idea In Light Of New Research
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Ethanol makes up 10% of most of the gasoline sold in the United States. A large part of why Ethanol is so prevalent is that the Renewable Fuel Standard, created in 2005, wanted to reduce the emissions of the fuels we use. Ethanol created from corn is renewable, because the corn takes carbon from the atmosphere to grow, creating a cycle that minimizes how much carbon is added to the atmosphere. At least, that's the story we were told.
New research out of University of Wisconsin - Madison, suggests that "the carbon intensity of corn ethanol is no less than gasoline and likely at least 24% higher." What's the solution? We need to choose options that have a greater percentage of net emissions reductions, so that we don't unintentionally increase emissions if regulators estimated predictions are incorrect.
Main Study - https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2101084119
EPA Impact Analysis - https://19january2017snapshot.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-08/documents/420r10006.pdf
UW Article - https://news.wisc.edu/at-bioenergy-crossroads-should-corn-ethanol-be-left-in-the-rearview-mirror/
Oxygenated Fuels - https://www.epa.gov/ust/fuel-oxygenates-and-usts
TEL to MTBE to Ethanol - https://doi.org/10.1080/10406026.2014.967057
Octane Numbers - https://energy.mit.edu/wp-content/uploads/2008/01/MIT-LFEE-08-001-RP.pdf
Harvard Law Research - https://eelp.law.harvard.edu/2020/09/next-generation-compliance-environmental-regulation-for-the-modern-era/
Harvard Law Research Pt. 4 - http://eelp.law.harvard.edu/wp-content/uploads/Cynthia-Giles-Part-4-FINAL.pdf
Renewable Fuels Standard - https://www.epa.gov/renewable-fuel-standard-program
US DOE - https://afdc.energy.gov/fuels/ethanol_fuel_basics.html
Pro Corn Ethanol Study - https://afdc.energy.gov/files/u/publication/ethanol-ghg-reduction-with-greet.pdf
Counter Study - https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/ac2e35/meta
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