New Study Tallies Corn Ethanol Costs

Posted on February 6, 2009. Filed under: Advanced Biofuel, Field-to-Pump | Tags: , , , , |

New Study Tallies Corn Ethanol Costs

By Kate Galbraith

The New York Times

February 5, 2009

 

In the latest installment of the debate over the emissions impact of corn-based ethanol, researchers from the University of Minnesota and other institutions found that corn ethanol is worse for health and the environment than regular gasoline, and far worse than cellulosic ethanol.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, looked at various types of fuels’ climate and health costs — defined as a combination of health costs from the emission of fine particulate matter, and climate costs from issues like mitigation, carbon capture and the damage from sea-level rise or crop loss.

The findings identified corn ethanol (corn is the main feedstock for ethanol produced in the United States) as more “costly” than cellulosic ethanol or even regular gasoline, though the range of cost estimates was wide and dependent on a large number of variables.

Last month, a University of Nebraska study found that ethanol produced significantly lower direct emissions than gasoline.

Jason Hill, a researcher with the University of Minnesota and one of the authors of the more recent study, said that the Nebraska study looked at fewer factors than did his study, and that the findings of the two were compatible.

Worth noting amid the back-and-forth: Cellulosic ethanol is far from being ready for commercial use, however.

 

About Renergie

Renergie was formed by Ms. Meaghan M. Donovan on March 22, 2006 for the purpose of raising capital to develop, construct, own and operate a network of ten ethanol plants in the parishes of the State of Louisiana which were devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  Each ethanol plant will have a production capacity of five million gallons per year (5 MGY) of fuel-grade ethanol.  Renergie’s “field-to-pump” strategy is to produce non-corn ethanol locally and directly market non-corn ethanol locally. On February 26, 2008, Renergie was one of 8 recipients, selected from 139 grant applicants, to share $12.5 million from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Renewable Energy Technologies Grants Program.  Renergie received $1,500,483 (partial funding) in grant money to design and build Florida’s first ethanol plant capable of producing fuel-grade ethanol solely from sweet sorghum juice. On  April 2, 2008, Enterprise Florida, Inc., the state’s economic development organization, selected Renergie as one of Florida’s most innovative technology companies in the alternative energy sector.  On January 20, 2009, Florida Energy & Climate Commission amended RET Grant Agreement S0386 to increase Renergie’s funding from $1,500,483 to $2,500,000. By blending fuel-grade ethanol with gasoline at the gas station pump, Renergie will offer the consumer a fuel that is renewable, more economical, cleaner, and more efficient than unleaded gasoline.  Moreover, the Renergie project will mark the first time that Louisiana farmers will share in the profits realized from the sale of value-added products made from their crops.

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    Renergie created “field-to-pump," a unique strategy to locally produce and market advanced biofuel (“non-corn fuel ethanol”) via a network of small advanced biofuel manufacturing facilities. The purpose of “field-to-pump” is to maximize rural development and job creation while minimizing feedstock supply risk and the burden on local water supplies.

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