Cumulative energy and global warming impact from the production of biomass for biobased products

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    Abstract

    The cumulative energy and global warming impacts associated with producing corn, soybeans, alfalfa, and switchgrass and transporting these crops to a central crop processing facility (called a "biorefinery") are estimated. The agricultural inputs for each crop are collected from seven states in the United States: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The cumulative energy requirement for producing and transporting these crops is 1.99 to 2.66 megajoules/kilogram (MJ/kg) for corn, 1.98 to 2.04 MJ/kg for soybeans, 1.24 MJ/kg for alfalfa, and 0.97 to 1.34 MJ/kg for switchgrass. The global warming impact associated with producing biomass is 246 to 286 grams (g) CO2 equivalent/kg for corn, 159 to 163 g CO 2 equivalent/kg for soybeans, 89 g CO2 equivalent/ kg for alfalfa, and 124 to 147 g CO2 equivalent/kg for switchgrass. The detailed agricultural data are used to assess previous controversies over the energy balance of bioethanol and, in light of the ongoing debates on this topic, provide a needed foundation for future life-cycle assessments.

    LanguageEnglish (US)
    Pages147-162
    Number of pages16
    JournalJournal of Industrial Ecology
    Volume7
    Issue number3-4
    DOIs
    StatePublished - 2004

    Profile

    alfalfa
    soybean
    global warming
    maize
    crop
    biomass
    energy
    product
    crop processing
    energy balance
    life cycle
    life cycle assessment

    Keywords

    • Agriculture
    • Alfalfa
    • Corn
    • Life-cycle assessment (LCA)
    • Soybeans
    • Switchgrass

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Environmental Science(all)
    • Ecology

    Cite this

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    abstract = "The cumulative energy and global warming impacts associated with producing corn, soybeans, alfalfa, and switchgrass and transporting these crops to a central crop processing facility (called a {"}biorefinery{"}) are estimated. The agricultural inputs for each crop are collected from seven states in the United States: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The cumulative energy requirement for producing and transporting these crops is 1.99 to 2.66 megajoules/kilogram (MJ/kg) for corn, 1.98 to 2.04 MJ/kg for soybeans, 1.24 MJ/kg for alfalfa, and 0.97 to 1.34 MJ/kg for switchgrass. The global warming impact associated with producing biomass is 246 to 286 grams (g) CO2 equivalent/kg for corn, 159 to 163 g CO 2 equivalent/kg for soybeans, 89 g CO2 equivalent/ kg for alfalfa, and 124 to 147 g CO2 equivalent/kg for switchgrass. The detailed agricultural data are used to assess previous controversies over the energy balance of bioethanol and, in light of the ongoing debates on this topic, provide a needed foundation for future life-cycle assessments.",
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