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Ethanol Can Contribute to Energy and Environmental Goals

Science  27 Jan 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5760, pp. 506-508
DOI: 10.1126/science.1121416

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Abstract

To study the potential effects of increased biofuel use, we evaluated six representative analyses of fuel ethanol. Studies that reported negative net energy incorrectly ignored coproducts and used some obsolete data. All studies indicated that current corn ethanol technologies are much less petroleum-intensive than gasoline but have greenhouse gas emissions similar to those of gasoline. However, many important environmental effects of biofuel production are poorly understood. New metrics that measure specific resource inputs are developed, but further research into environmental metrics is needed. Nonetheless, it is already clear that large-scale use of ethanol for fuel will almost certainly require cellulosic technology.

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