Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Ethanol and Biodiesel from Crops not Worth the Energy

Via Eureka Alert:

Cornell ecologist's study finds that producing ethanol and biodiesel from corn and other crops is not worth the energy-ITHACA, N.Y. -- Turning plants such as corn, soybeans and sunflowers into fuel uses much more energy than the resulting ethanol or biodiesel generates, according to a new Cornell University and University of California-Berkeley study....complete story.

My father, who is a farmer, has been telling me this for years now, and I didn't find it too hard too believe, but I have remained hopeful.
The final paragraph of the story sums it up well:
"Ethanol production in the United States does not benefit the nation's energy security, its agriculture, economy or the environment," says Pimentel. "Ethanol production requires large fossil energy input, and therefore, it is contributing to oil and natural gas imports and U.S. deficits." He says the country should instead focus its efforts on producing electrical energy from photovoltaic cells, wind power and burning biomass and producing fuel from hydrogen conversion.


This is the only thing I've seen on this recently, but I'm sure there are plenty of people ready to refute these findings. If no one can reasonably argue with the energy balance of the current process described in the study, I can see where one could argue whether it is a project worth continuing. I think at the very least we can assume that the process will become more efficient, and as it stands could be considered a bridge to an improved process that is a benificial alternative to burning fossil fuels.

I would like to know what these folks would say about the thermal depolymerization process which I have previously mentioned here.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, there are many people ready to refute this study. In fact, the two people mentioned here are about the only ones retaining that position. The new study mentioned in the article was done in the late '70's by people who are regular consultants with the oil industry, and could take credit for helping with the efficiency improvement of conversion to ethanol, put prefer to retain their old data and old alliegances.

9:32 AM  
Anonymous David said...

Yes, there are many people ready to refute this study. In fact, the two people mentioned here (frequent consultants with the oil industry) are about the only ones retaining that position. Their new study as mentioned in the article was actually done in the late '70's. So these guys could take credit for fostering the efficiency improvement of conversion to ethanol, but prefer to retain their old data and old allegiances.

9:41 AM  

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