Corn-based ethanol emits 43 percent fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than gasoline when measured on an energy equivalent basis, according to a new USDA report, "A Life-Cycle Analysis of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Corn-Based Ethanol."
The new calculation accounts for more efficient farming methods and more conservation practices that reduce GHG emissions including reduced tillage, cover crops, and improved nitrogen management. Ethanol production technologies are also increasingly more efficient.
"The report provides a sound incorporation of the recent energy efficiency improvements achieved by corn ethanol plants, many of which were driven by the incentives provided by the RFS2," says Steffen Mueller, PhD; Principal Research Economist University of Illinois at Chicago Energy Resources Center. "Corn ethanol today now mirrors the environmental benefits of advanced biofuels."
Dr. Mueller has long researched corn-based ethanol and its emissions and carbon footprint, most recently traveling all over the world to share his research and help other countries understand the benefits corn-based ethanol has to offer.
"Several countries like the EU and Japan require a greenhouse gas reduction of fifty percent to qualify corn ethanol blends into their fuel supply - this is without considering international land use assessments in recognition of the uncertainties surrounding this science. Today's USDA report shows that the average U.S. produced corn ethanol easily meets these international requirements, which documents the competitive advantage of this fuel in green markets abroad," he said.