NSTI Nanotech 2009

A review: Comprehensive comparison of corn-based and cellulosic-based ethanol as biofuel sources

F. Hoover, J. Abraham
University of St. Thomas, US

Keywords: ethanol, cellulosic, corn, biofuel, greenhouse emissions

Abstract:

This study reviewed literature on corn and cellulosic ethanol for their potential to replace petroleum fuels. Metrics include: energy yield, cropland requirements, and pollution reduction. The key findings are that an agreement exists among the literature that corn production yields are insufficient to warrant large-scale production. The required cropland is far in excess of available corn cropland. Furthermore, the use of corn for will lead to continued increases in world-wide food prices. When these findings are considered along with the marginal improvement in CO2 emissions and other pollutants, it is apparent that corn ethanol is not viable for replacing petroleum fuels. In contrast, this study found that cellulosic ethanol, which can be grown on marginal cropland, provides a much greater energy yield and a significantly greater pollution reduction. In summary, cellulosic ethanol could provide one alternative to petroleum fuels and is deserving of large-scale test experimentation to conclusively demonstrate viability.
 
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