Thursday, August 13, 2009

Biofuels consume a lot of water and hurt the environment

Now what will the Green-goes do?
    "Production of bioethanol as an alternative to fossil fuels could have a much greater detrimental impact on the environment than previously thought, according to a new study from Sangwon Suh and colleagues in the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering, at the University of Minnesota. Writing in Environmental Science & Technology, the team explain how bioethanol production may consume up to three times more water than earlier estimates suggested. Previous studies estimated that a gallon of corn-based bioethanol used between 263 and 784 gallons of water from farm to fuel pump. Suh's team determined that these estimates do not take into account the significant variation in regional irrigation practices. . . The results also show that as the ethanol industry expands to areas that apply more irrigated water than others, consumptive water appropriation by bioethanol in the U.S. has increased 246% from 1.9 to 6.1 trillion liters between 2005 and 2008, whereas U.S. bioethanol production has increased only 133% from 15 to 34 billion liters during the same period." Environ. Sci. Technol., 2009, 43 (8), pp 2688–2692.
Let's use the decayed plant and animal resources we already have--petroleum, coal, and natural gas. If nothing else, putting corn in gas tanks when there are hungry people should give greenies pause. We can probably live without oil; but not without water.

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