Feb 8, 2008

Not all biofuels are made the same

(This is a quick response to the New York Times article that came out today http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/08/science/earth/08wbiofuels.htm)

As you know, not all biofuels are made the same; cutting down the rainforest to grow biofuel crops is a terrible idea. Growing crops locally has been proven thru many studies to create lowered emissions and a net gain of energy over the life cycle of the fuel. Life cycle assessments follow a product from "cradle to grave" and all the inputs in between; for biofuels, this would be taking everything from planting, to fertilizing, harvesting, transport, conversion, distribution and combustion, into consideration.

Soybean-based biodiesel (grown in the US) has a lifecycle impact of lowering carbon dioxide emissions by 78% as compared to petroleum diesel. (http://www.nrel.gov/docs/legosti/fy98/24089.pdf)

SeQuential has always relied upon government laboratory research; we feel it is the least biased source we can find. If you want to do some further reading, here is a page with a whole bunch of links to documents that support the benefits of biofuels: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/biomass/publications.html.

Most studies are done with Midwest grown soybean based biodiesel. The SeQuential-Pacific plant in Salem primarily makes biodiesel out of used cooking oil, adding the element of recycling into the mix. I have not seen any studies on how many times better this makes the environmental impact, but I imagine it is many-fold.

3 comments:

Sasha Friedman said...

The Department of Energy's Office of Biomass program released this response to the article:

“There has also been no indication that U.S. corn ethanol production has so far caused indirect land use changes in other countries because U.S. corn exports have been maintained at about 2 billion bushels a year and because U.S. DGS exports have steadily increased in the past ten years.
...
While scientific assessment of land use change issues is urgently needed in order to design policies that prevent unintended consequences from biofuels production, conclusions regarding the GHG emissions effects of biofuels based on speculative, limited land use change modeling may misguide biofuels policy development”

To see their whole response:
http://www.transportation.anl.gov/media_center/news_stories/20080214_response.html

SoCalSolar said...

Love your blog and the info!!!

The recent report regarding the inclusion of land use changes and the effects on the biofuel emissions throughout the whole life cycle, I took, as being far more relative to ethanol, not bio-diesel specifically. I have not seen any reports on the use of cooking oil other than it is largely felt to be a very good use of the "waste". I believe that same report, which questioned using corn, and various other crops, to make fuel did state that making biofuels from waste products DOES make sense! I would take that as an indirect endorsement to your company's current production process.
Keep it up!!!

Herb said...

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