Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cellulosic Ethanol May Benefit Human Health And Help Slow Climate Change

Date:
February 3, 2009
Source:
University of Minnesota
Summary:
Filling our fuel tanks with cellulosic ethanol instead of gasoline or corn-based ethanol may be even better for our health and the environment than previously recognized, according to new research.

Filling our fuel tanks with cellulosic ethanol instead of gasoline or corn-based ethanol may be even better for our health and the environment than previously recognized, according to new research from the University of Minnesota.

Related Articles


The study finds that cellulosic ethanol has fewer negative effects on human health because it emits smaller amounts of fine particulate matter, an especially harmful component of air pollution. Earlier work showed that cellulosic ethanol and other next-generation biofuels also emit lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

The study will be published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in February and will be posted online next week.

"Our work highlights the need to expand the biofuels debate beyond its current focus on climate change to include a wider range of effects such as their impacts on air quality," said lead author Jason Hill, a resident fellow in the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment.

The study is the first to estimate the economic costs to human health and well-being from gasoline, corn-based ethanol and cellulosic ethanol made from biomass. The authors found that depending on the materials and technology used in production, cellulosic ethanol's environmental and health costs are less than half the costs of gasoline, while corn-based ethanol's costs range from roughly equal to about double that of gasoline.

Total environmental and health costs of gasoline are about 71 cents per gallon, while an equivalent amount of corn-ethanol fuel costs from 72 cents to about $1.45, depending on the technology used to produce it. An equivalent amount of cellulosic ethanol, however, costs from 19 cents to 32 cents, depending on the technology and type of cellulosic materials used.

"These costs are not paid for by those who produce, sell and buy gasoline or ethanol. The public pays these costs," said study co-author Stephen Polasky, a professor in the university's applied economics department.

The authors looked at pollutants emitted at all stages of the life cycles of the three types of fuel, including when they are produced and used. They considered three methods of producing corn-based ethanol and four methods of producing cellulosic ethanol.

"To understand the environmental and health consequences of biofuels we must look well beyond the tailpipe to how and where biofuels are produced. Clearly, upstream emissions matter," Hill said.

The paper also points out that other potential advantages of cellulosic biofuels, such as reducing the amount of fertilizer and pesticide runoff into rivers and lakes, may also add to the economic benefit of transitioning to next-generation biofuels.

Regents professor David Tilman of the university's ecology, evolution and behavior department also contributed to the paper, as did scientists from Stanford University and the Argonne National Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy. Research funding was provided in part by the Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment, a signature program of the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Minnesota. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Minnesota. "Cellulosic Ethanol May Benefit Human Health And Help Slow Climate Change." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090202174934.htm>.
University of Minnesota. (2009, February 3). Cellulosic Ethanol May Benefit Human Health And Help Slow Climate Change. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090202174934.htm
University of Minnesota. "Cellulosic Ethanol May Benefit Human Health And Help Slow Climate Change." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090202174934.htm (accessed November 24, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, November 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) A multinational group of scientists have released the first ever detailed, high-resolution 3-D maps of Antarctic sea ice. Using an underwater robot equipped with sonar, the researchers mapped the underside of a massive area of sea ice to gauge the impact of climate change. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Car Park Solution for Flexible Green Energy

Car Park Solution for Flexible Green Energy

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) A British solar power start-up says that by covering millions of existing car park spaces around the UK with flexible solar panels, the country's power problems could be solved. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

AFP (Nov. 23, 2014) The arable district of Kenema in Sierra Leone -- at the centre of the Ebola outbreak in May -- has been under quarantine for three months as the cocoa harvest comes in. Duration: 01:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NY Gov. on Flood Prep: 'prepared for the Worst'

NY Gov. on Flood Prep: 'prepared for the Worst'

AP (Nov. 23, 2014) First came the big storm. Now comes the big melt for residents of flood-prone areas around Buffalo. New York's governor says officials are preparing for the worst as the temperature is expected to rise and potentially melt several feet of snow. (Nov. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins