Publication date (electronic): 31 March 2017
Lifecycle assessment of biofuel production:
Can the mass utilization of biofuels help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on fossil fuels? Four particular types of biofuels have been the subject of extensive study in this regard: corn ethanol, sugar cane ethanol, cellulosic ethanol, and biodiesel. This paper overviews the evidence from the literature on Lifecycle Assessment studies pertaining to these four fuels and finds that no definitive answer to these questions exists in the literature. The example of biofuels co-products is used to illustrate the reason why no easy answer can be arrived at from these studies. The deeper sources of variation within the literature are identified as well as the requirements that would be needed to formulate an LCA which can provide conclusive and actionable answers.
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