Life cycle assessment of fuel ethanol derived from corn grain via dry milling

    Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

    • 57 Citations

    Abstract

    Life cycle analysis enables to investigate environmental performance of fuel ethanol used in an E10 fueled compact passenger vehicle. Ethanol is derived from corn grain via dry milling. This type of analysis is an important component for identifying practices that will help to ensure that a renewable fuel, such as ethanol, may be produced in a sustainable manner. Based on data from eight counties in seven Corn Belt states as corn farming sites, we show ethanol derived from corn grain as E10 fuel would reduce nonrenewable energy and greenhouse gas emissions, but would increase acidification, eutrophication and photochemical smog, compared to using gasoline as liquid fuel. The ethanol fuel systems considered in this study offer economic benefits, namely more money returned to society than the investment for producing ethanol. The environmental performance of ethanol fuel system varies significantly with corn farming sites because of different crop management practices, soil properties, and climatic conditions. The dominant factor determining most environmental impacts considered here (i.e., greenhouse gas emissions, acidification, eutrophication, and photochemical smog formation) is soil related nitrogen losses (e.g., N2O, NOx, and NO3-). The sources of soil nitrogen include nitrogen fertilizer, crop residues, and air deposition. Nitrogen fertilizer is probably the primary source. Simulations using an agro-ecosystem model predict that planting winter cover crops would reduce soil nitrogen losses and increase soil organic carbon levels, thereby greatly improving the environmental performance of the ethanol fuel system.

    LanguageEnglish (US)
    Pages5250-5260
    Number of pages11
    JournalBioresource Technology
    Volume99
    Issue number12
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Aug 2008

    Profile

    dry milling
    ethanol fuels
    life cycle assessment
    ethanol
    corn
    Ethanol fuels
    Life cycle
    Soils
    life cycle
    maize
    Life Cycle Stages
    Zea mays
    Ethanol
    nitrogen fertilizers
    soil
    environmental performance
    Nitrogen
    Soil
    Fuel systems
    Crops

    Keywords

    • Corn
    • Dry milling
    • E10 fuel
    • Eco-efficiency
    • Life cycle assessment

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Agronomy and Crop Science
    • Food Science
    • Process Chemistry and Technology
    • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
    • Bioengineering
    • Environmental Engineering
    • Waste Management and Disposal

    Cite this

    Life cycle assessment of fuel ethanol derived from corn grain via dry milling. / Kim, Seungdo; Dale, Bruce E.

    In: Bioresource Technology, Vol. 99, No. 12, 08.2008, p. 5250-5260.

    Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

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