Wednesday, April 4, 2007

With Cellulosic Ethanol, There Is No Food Vs. Fuel Debate According To MSU Scientist

A criticism of most methods to produce biofuels like Ethanol and Biodiesel is that the typical source material is some kind of food crop. In the U.S. the typical ethanol producer starts with corn. Yup, corn, the stuff we'd be eating if it weren't being made into ethanol. Apparently the ethanol demand has caused a huge growth in planting corn this year. And it has caused food riots in Mexico because the price of corn has risen so high the people can no longer afford tortillas.

Bruce Dale, an MSU chemical engineering and materials science professor, has used life cycle analysis tools, which include agricultural data and computer modeling, to study the sustainability of producing biofuels - fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel that are made from renewable resources.

...Having studied ethanol for more than 30 years, Dale said that as the country moves toward large-scale cellulosic ethanol production, the yield of so-called energy crops - grasses and woody materials grown for their energy content - also will increase dramatically.

..."The evidence indicates that large-scale biofuel production will increase, not decrease, world food supplies by making animal feed production much more efficient," Dale said.

The core reasoning is that there are ways of producing ethanol and biodiesel from sources other than food crops.

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