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Ethanol - Research Paper Example

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Name Surname Supervisor Subject Date Ethanol Fossil fuels have polluted our environment in last one hundred years or so leading to global warming and climate change. Of late many countries have promoted the use of alcohol as bio-fuel blending with fossil fuels in a certain ratio; however, promotion of ethanol as a bio-fuel is now highly questionable…
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Download file to see previous pages The study involved 19 American Corn producing states and the effect of corn farming for ethanol production were analyzed based on 12 environmental factors. The study also considered the factors known as ‘eutrophication’ that is simply described as "an increase in the rate of supply of organic matter in an ecosystem" (Evans). Based on their study, it is revealed that E85 (blend of 85% ethanol and 15% of gasoline) fuel causes worse environmental impact than pure unblended gasoline. To be precise, E85 shows, on average, 23% higher impact in relation to gasoline. Moreover, if greenhouse gas emissions from land use are taken into account, the impact on environment is found to be 33% higher than gasoline. The researchers in their findings used the Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions and Energy Use in Transportation (GREET) model developed by Argonne National Laboratory. The model determines "the amount of fuel required for the average gasoline and flex-fuel vehicle over a distance of about 0.62 miles (1 kilometer)" (Evans). E85's benefits and drawbacks are compared with gasoline that is produced from imported crude oil and refined in the country. The authors point out that in previous studies the impact of irrigation, fertilizer uses, and pesticide application for feedstock growth has not been taken into account and without that real impact of ethanol on environment cannot be estimated accurately (Yang et al.). On land-use change, Searchinger et al. argues that when American farmers divert corn for ethanol production that means some other land within the US or outside must cultivate corn required as feed stock for human consumption assuming total consumption remains stationary. It can be construed that bio-fuel production is bound to drive agriculture in some other parts of the world. With new areas converting to agricultural use, a carbon debt is bound to occur. Searchinger et al. estimate emissions using agricultural model of land-use change and they have found that corn-based ethanol production enhances green house emission by 100% over 30 years. Authors conclude that as long as biofuel is grown on farmland, it can not imporve our carbon foot print (Searchinger, 2008). It is important to note that the Federal government in the US is providing large subsidies to farmers so that corn-based ethanol production could be enhanced. The objective is to reduce gasoline consumption by 20 percent. Does that mean that the US government is providing subsidy to worsen the environment instead of improving it? Michael Grunwald argues that bio-fuels take away the agricultural land and destroy the forests, and grasslands that are storehouse of huge amounts of carbon. In Indonesia, in a bid to grow palm oil trees for bio-diesels people have reduced wilds to such an extent that the country has been now third largest emitters of carbon. Same is the case with Malaysia where palm oil farming for bio-fuel production has taken surge reducing agricultural land for human consumption. In the US, 20 percent of corn is sold to ethanol production creating scarcity of corn for human and cattle feed consumption (Grundwald). ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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