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Greenhouse gas by fuel

The Greenhouse Gas Production of Various Fuel Types


           More and more as the world pushes further into more economic and environmental distress, one major aspect sought to be revised is fuel consumption. Much effort is being focused on the reduction of pollution and consumption of natural and non-renewable resources. The steps headlining the daily news involve personal transportation. One of the most prominent and effective alternative fuels used to power everyday consumer transportation, comes in a form of the absolute alcohol, ethanol. Ethanol can be obtained from several sources that can be grown in abundance, such as many grains and other mass-produced plants. It is an important alternative fuel because its supporters claim that it is the ultimate clean fuel, thus, minimizing negative environmental impacts on its neighboring ecosystems. 

            Opposing the optimism behind ethanol are critics that question ethanol’s environmental impacts throughout its manufacturing process. These claims bring to mind the effect on ground soil that is being overused to mass-produce the number of crops required for ethanol production, among other things. Ethanol carries a heavy load of advantages and disadvantages along with it, which can be divided into massive subcategories. Increasing demand for ethanol (and for corn as an ethanol feedstock) over the past decade came in response to a rise in energy prices environmental actions towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing ground level ozone and smog, and increasing energy independence [1]. This article will focus on the environmental argument that turns people on and off to the thought of this alternative fuel.

Ethanol in Gas RFA Small

Increasing Production of Ethanol from 2000-2011

BEFORE ETHANOL EVEN ENTERS THE GAS TANK… Edit

            …the fuel source is directly impacting the environment in harmful ways..  Due to the introduction of ethanol into the economy of farming, the production of corn has been increasing greatly since the year 2000.  Ethanol-based gasoline has increased by a factor of over 9 million gallons in the last decade. Corn is not the only beneficial crop in this situation, as many farms increase their ethanol production by using soybeans simultaneously with corn crop.  United States corn acreage increased mostly on farms that previously specialized in soybeans. Other farms expanded soybean production to allow for a greater variety in soil usage, leading to healthier, less stagnant soil.  Farm-level data reveal that the simultaneous net expansion of corn and soybean acreage resulted from a reduction in cotton acreage.  This is one example of a negative impact on the ecosystem.  Ethanol creates a loss of other crops that can be beneficial to the environment in certain ways.  Also taken into consideration by critics is the fact that soil will be used to hold the same content year after year, harvest after harvest, which can be detrimental to the quality of nutrition and fertility of the host soil. This information is given in the results from a study conducted of the 2008 Agricultural Research Management Survey (ARMS). The survey is a detailed, annual survey of farm business given by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). The increase of ethanol-specific farming acreage increased in the U.S. from 72 million acres to over 79 million, with the greatest step occurring from 2006-2008 [2].

Thebreakthrough.org

Corn is Spreading Over Farmland at Dangerous Rates

SPREADING LIKE A PLAGUE… Edit

…across North America, this ethanol-era is stealing valuable real-estate from other important forms of life. Apart from the lack of other crops being grown, and the sacrifice of a variety of other crops’ allotted acreage, one must remember the other occupants of farmland. Great amounts of livestock are being removed from farms to accommodate the conversion of their pasture land into new space for the ethanol crop to grow.  Livestock provide numerous services to their surrounding land as well.  Weeding, fertilization, and other important effects of livestock are now removed from the environment’s life cycle, resulting in unhealthier land and vegetation. Over 30 percent of American farms agreed that they had converted previous pasture or other types of land into harvested property because of ethanol-demand in the past decade [3].

            Ethanol also impacts the environment during its use. It is during this stage of the ethanol process that many positive advantages present themselves.  For example, when 20 vol. percent of a soybean-based biofuel is introduced to petroleum gas, the newfound fuel results in several drastic and very important changes in emission.  The focal point of ethanol is how it can save the world from petroleum related pollution.  The new fuel mentioned just above, results in over 10 percent less particulate matter and carbon monoxide in its emissions, and over a 20 percent reduction in hydrocarbon emission.  Nitrogen oxides emission sees an increase of 2 percent, but this is a small sacrifice when one weighs the other staggering results[4].

BREATHTAKING… Edit

…advantages cannot completely cloud the public’s eye with optimism, as ethanol usage does have its weaker characteristics once the fuel is actually in use. Ethanol is far more corrosive than petroleum, resulting in damaged products.  The damaged products from corrosion not only lead to direct pollution due to spills and other exposure, but one must take into account the fact that more damage equals higher need for parts, requiring rises in industrial production, another leading cause of pollution. Ethanol also carries a lower energy density, low flame luminosity, and lower vapor pressure, all affecting the performance of the mechanical device being fueled by the solution [5].  Ethanol also has a much higher toxicity to the environment through direct contact.  Another negative impact of ethanol-based fuel is the alternate combustion process that takes place in the engine.  Ethanol combustion produces far more sulfur than a petroleum fuel.  This sulfur causes acidic rains, which can affect forests, waters, and soils .[6]

Buildaroocomwp-contentuploads201002automobilepollution1

Petroleum Pollution From Automobile Usage

CHOICES… Edit

            …obviously must be made by viewing both the advantages and disadvantages of ethanol usage. However, the future of ethanol seems bleak, or underdeveloped.  How can a biofuel whose primary goal is reducing environmental harm present so many of the negative characteristics mentioned above?  The advantages of ethanol are the obvious facts that the general public may know through everyday conversation, but the disadvantages are much deeper. This leaves open the door for further fine-tuning of ethanol’s potential, which will only increase and improve through conflict and resolution in the near future.

References Edit

  1. Wallander, S. (2011, August). The Ethanol Decade: An Expansion of U.S. Corn Production, 2000-09. USDA ERS -The Ethanol Decade: An Expansion of U.S. Corn Production, 2000-09. Retrieved November 23, 2012, from http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/eib- economic-information-bulletin/eib79.aspx
  2. Wallander, S. (2011, August). The Ethanol Decade: An Expansion of U.S. Corn Production, 2000-09. USDA ERS -The Ethanol Decade: An Expansion of U.S. Corn Production, 2000-09. Retrieved November 23, 2012, from http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/eib- economic-information-bulletin/eib79.aspx
  3. Wallander, S. (2011, August). The Ethanol Decade: An Expansion of U.S. Corn Production, 2000-09. USDA ERS -The Ethanol Decade: An Expansion of U.S. Corn Production, 2000-09. Retrieved November 23, 2012, from http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/eib- economic-information-bulletin/eib79.aspx
  4. Gupta, Ram B.; Demirbas, Ayhan (2010). Gasoline, Diesel and Ethanol Biofuels from Grasses and Plants.. Cambridge University Press.Online version available at:http://www.knovel.com/web/portal/browse/display?_EXT_KNOVEL_DISPLAY_bookid =3970&VerticalID=0
  5. Gupta, Ram B.; Demirbas, Ayhan (2010). Gasoline, Diesel and Ethanol Biofuels from Grasses and Plants.. Cambridge University Press.Online version available at:http://www.knovel.com/web/portal/browse/display?_EXT_KNOVEL_DISPLAY_bookid =3970&VerticalID=0
  6. Hilbert, D. (2011, June 30). High Ethanol Fuel Endurance: A Study of the Effects of Running Gasoline with 15% Ethanol Concentration in Current Production Outboard Four-Stroke Engines and Conventional Two-Stroke Outboard Marine Engines. Retrieved November 22, 2012, from http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy12osti/52909.pdf

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