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Mar 7, 2022

America Was Wrong About Ethanol — Study Shows

Posted by in categories: energy, engineering, transportation

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.

Video References:
Main Study — https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2101084119
EPA Impact Analysis — https://19january2017snapshot.epa.gov/sites/production/files…r10006.pdf.
UW Article — https://news.wisc.edu/at-bioenergy-crossroads-should-corn-et…ew-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-complia…odern-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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