Research Shows Ethanol Lowers GHG Emissions

February 15, 2008

Numerous scientific studies have proved that ethanol fuels emit fewer greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline and create a net energy gain.

Several states are currently evaluating low carbon gasoline standards as a means of reducing greenhouse gases (GHG). Such standards may require that future gasoline blends reduce greenhouse gases by at least 20% over a conventional gasoline baseline. Greater use of ethanol in gasoline is considered the most economic means of reducing GHG emissions to required levels.

A recent study at the University of Nebraska found that ethanol from switchgrass has 94% lower lifecycle GHG emissions than gasoline and creates a 540% net positive energy gain.

In a recent letter to Science magazine, scientists Michael Wang and Zia Haq wrote that ethanol use can decrease GHG emissions as corn yields per acre increase and ethanol production becomes more energy efficient and uses fewer fossil fuels.

On the basis of our own analyses, production of corn-based ethanol in the United States so far results in moderate GHG emissions reductions, Wang and Haq wrote.

Corn yields per acre have increased steadily by 800 percent in the past 100 years, and more ethanol plants are using alternative sources of energy, such as the Siouxland Ethanol plant in Jackson which uses methane gas harvested from a nearby landfill, said Todd Sneller, administrator of the Nebraska Ethanol Board.

Researchers agree that ethanol burns cleaner in your car and emits fewer greenhouse gases than gasoline, Sneller said. Ethanol is an alternative fuel that creates a net gain for Nebraskans in so many ways through cleaner air, lower fuel prices and a stronger economy.