ACE: GREET shows improvement in life cycle ethanol emissions

By Kassidi Andres | February 11, 2016

New research by American Coalition for Ethanol President Ron Alverson indicates life cycle modeling has demonstrated significant improvement in emissions performance of the corn-based ethanol life cycle, with continued improvements expected during the next few years.

Alverson conducted research based on the Greenhouse gases Regulated Emissions and Energy use in Transportation model. The model was developed by Argonne National Laboratory to evaluate the life cycle emissions of various fuel combinations, including ethanol and gasoline and ethanol-gasoline blends.

According to the national lab, "The peer-reviewed model has laid to rest some long-held misunderstandings about ethanol (EtOH) and its important role in reducing petroleum use and greenhouse gas emissions. In terms of key energy and environmental benefits, Argonne’s GREET shows that cornstarch ethanol clearly outpaces petroleum-based fuels, and that tomorrow’s cellulose-based ethanol would do even better."

According to Alverson’s research, life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with ethanol have dropped by approximately 60 percent over the last 25 years and will continue to decrease with improvements in production efficiencies and negative land-use change.

GREET’s calculations show that the fossil energy input per unit of ethanol is lower, with 0.78 million British thermal units (Btu) of fossil energy consumed for each 1 million Btu of ethanol delivered. In comparison, 1.23 million Btu of fossil energy consumed for each 1 million Btu of gasoline delivered.