The production and consumption of biofuels is growing all over the world. It is believed that fuel based on vegetable raw materials does less harm to the environment, including the reduction of harmful emissions into the atmosphere. In some ways, the calculations are correct, but somewhere they can be biased. A recent study by a group of American scientists showed that, for example, the full cycle of obtaining and burning bioethanol is more harmful to the environment than the production and burning of gasoline.
The Global Energy portal , citing the work of scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Kansas, the University of Kentucky and the University of California, reported that for the entire cycle of obtaining and using bioethanol as a fuel, harmful emissions into the atmosphere occur by 24% more than in the case of production and use for the same purpose of conventional gasoline.
For the United States, where the car is not a luxury, but the first and mass means of transportation, automotive fuel is one of the most sensitive issues. Since 2006, the United States has been implementing a program to introduce renewable fuel standards (Renewable Fuel Standard, RFS). Within the framework of the program, the norms for the production and consumption of various types of biofuels, including bioethanol, have been legally formalized. In 2006, the standard was 4 million gallons per year (15 million liters), and in 2022 the rate increased to 36 million gallons (136 million liters). Real fuel consumption in the US in 2022 is projected at 138 million gallons. In other words, the share of biofuels will be approximately 20%.
During the study, scientists analyzed not only CO 2 emissions from the combustion of bioethanol, but also studied all stages of its production, including the cultivation of raw materials. It turned out that the Renewable Fuel Standard program led to an increase in prices for corn from 2008 to 2016 by 30% and by 20% for other grains. During the same period, the area under cultivation of raw materials increased by 8.7% for corn and by 2.4% for other cereals.
This led to an increase in the use of mineral fertilizers from 3% to 8% and other chemicals, which degrade water quality along the way. All together increased emissions from agricultural activities and led to the fact that the production cycle of bioethanol was 24% worse in terms of harmful emissions than the production and use of gasoline.
With all this, the production of biofuels in the world will not stop. One study and even a series of papers on this topic is not enough to draw balanced conclusions. Another thing is that stereotypes and political correctness have no place in science. It is possible to make the right decision only by studying all sides of the issue.
source: global energy