Navigation Links
Environmental benefit of biofuels is overestimated, new study reveals
Date:6/8/2012

Two scientists are challenging the currently accepted norms of biofuel production. A commentary published today in GCB Bioenergy reveals that calculations of greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions from bioenergy production are neglecting crucial information that has led to the overestimation of the benefits of biofuels compared to fossil fuels.

The critique extends to the Life Cycle Analysis models of bioenergy production. Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) is a technique used to measure and compile all factors relating to the production, usage, and disposal of a fuel or product. The authors conclude that LCAs are overestimating the positive aspects of biofuel use versus fossil fuel use by omitting the emission of CO2 by vehicles that use ethanol and biodiesel even when there is no valid justification.

Proponents of bioenergy argue that analyses should always ignore this CO2 because plants grown for biofuel absorb and therefore offset the same amount of carbon that is emitted by refining and combusting the fuel. The commentary critiques this method by arguing that doing so double counts the carbon absorbed by plants when the bioenergy crops are grown on land already used for crop production or already growing other plants because the bioenergy does not necessarily result in additional carbon absorption. Biofuels can only reduce greenhouse gases if they result in additional plant growth, or if they in effect generate additional useable biomass by capturing waste material that would otherwise decompose anyway.

The overestimation of bioenergy LCAs becomes increasingly magnified when the omission of CO2 is combined with the underestimation of nitrogen emissions from fertilizer application. According to lead author Dr. Keith Smith, from the University of Edinburgh, "Emissions of N2O from the soil make a large contribution to the global warming associated with crop production because each kilogram of N2O emitted to the atmosphere has about the same effect as 300kg of CO2." He notes that several current LCAs underestimate the percentage of nitrogen fertilizer application that is actually emitted to the atmosphere as a GHG. The authors claim that the observed increase in atmospheric N2O shows that this percentage is in reality nearly double the values used in the LCAs, which greatly changes their outcome.

Since results of the LCAs have been widely utilized, Searchinger and Smith conclude that the overall development and research of alternative fuels has been heading in the wrong direction. "The best opportunity to make beneficial biofuels is to use waste material or to focus on relatively wet but highly degraded land," notes Dr. Smith. If bioenergy crops are produced on degraded land, less GHGs will be emitted and more will be stored. There are additional benefits: this method will not compete with crop production for food, textiles, and other products.


'/>"/>
Contact: Rhea Kressman
GCBB-Bioenergy@igb.uiuc.edu
001-217-333-9651
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Wells Fargo fosters environmental conservation through University of Miamis RJD program
2. Tiny plants could cut costs, shrink environmental footprint
3. New museum-university partnership ushers in new era of environmental science education
4. Long-term research reveals causes and consequences of environmental change
5. Stomata development in plants unraveled -- a valuable discovery for environmental research
6. Increasing water scarcity in Californias Bay-Delta will necessitate trade-offs; hard decisions needed to balance various environmental risks
7. Environmental factors in Tiny Tims near fatal illness
8. Reproductive health providers should discuss environmental exposure risks with patients
9. Effects of environmental toxicants reach down through generations
10. Health benefits of vitamin D dependent on type taken
11. Study: In-patient, out-patient stroke rehab might benefit from yoga
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/2/2017)... 2, 2017 Australian stem cell and regenerative ... has signed an agreement with the Monash Lung Biology ... Discovery Institute and Department of Pharmacology at Monash University, ... preclinical study to support the use of Cymerus™ mesenchymal ... Asthma is a chronic, long term lung ...
(Date:2/27/2017)... --  Strategic Cyber Ventures , the industry,s first cybersecurity ... million investment in  Polarity , the first commercial human ... based and is led by cybersecurity veterans Tom ... Gula , also a longtime cybersecurity veteran and founder ... A round of funding. This new funding will be ...
(Date:2/21/2017)... LONDON , February 21, 2017 ... um 70 Millionen US-Dollar wachsen. Nach einem Gespräch mit mehr ... es einige Hindernisse zu überwinden gilt, um diese Prognose ... ... unter anderem die Mobilisierung der finanziellen Mittel für die ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:3/24/2017)...   Sienna Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. , a privately held, ... Richard Peterson will join the company as ... who brings more than two decades of global financial ... retiring at the end of April but will continue ... Sienna from Novan, Inc., where he served as Chief ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... Research and Markets has announced the addition of the ... ... The Global Market for Bioproducts Should Reach $714.6 Billion by ... 8.9%, This research report quantifies the two ... segments: bio-derived chemicals, biofuels, pharmaceuticals (biodrugs and herbal/botanicals), biocomposite materials, ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... March 23, 2017  BioPharmX Corporation (NYSE MKT: ... the dermatology market, today reported financial results for ... and will provide an update on the company,s ... "We are pleased to report that ... BioPharmX," said President Anja Krammer. "We achieved key ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... New York , March 23, 2017 ... blood plasma products and derivatives market is fragmented due to the presence ... players, such as Proliant, Thermo Fisher , and Sigma-Aldrich, compete ... leader, these three companies, collectively, held more than 76% of this ... ...
Breaking Biology Technology: