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White Paper Highlights Corn Ethanol’s Decreasing Carbon Intensity

Innovations in conversion technology and energy use at ethanol facilities, coupled with enhanced efficiency fertilizers and corn production management have resulted in corn ethanol being significantly shortchanged in its value to reduce carbon emissions, according to a new White Paper released here today.

The paper was written by Ron Alverson, a South Dakota corn and soybean farmer with a background in Agronomy/Soil Science and produced through the Clean Fuels Development Coalition’s Ethanol Across America education campaign. Mr. Alverson provides a detailed analysis of recent changes to the life cycle carbon intensity of Midwest corn ethanol as calculated by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory. The tool created by Argonne is called the GREET (Greenhouse gasses, Regulated Emissions and Energy Transportation) model and has been significantly updated since its first iteration in 2008. However, the paper noted that the low carbon fuel regulators at the federal and state level have failed to recognize the new realities of what should now be considered an advanced biofuel.

“If greenhouse gas modeling of transportation fuels are to maintain integrity and achieve their desired outcome, it is essential that modeling is done consistently and that assumptions are periodically reviewed and updated with the latest science,” writes Alverson.  ”The future is bright for corn ethanol to provide significant reductions in US transportation fuel carbon intensity. Corn provides high per acre production of feed/food, high octane fuel, and low GHG emissions,” said Alverson.

In releasing the paper today, Clean Fuels Development Coalition Executive Director Douglas Durante told reporters that this data should be a game changer in terms of how the federal renewable fuel standard (RFS) can be met. Federal law defines Advanced Biofuel as being able to demonstrate a 50% GHG reduction but prohibits the use of corn starch as a source of the fuel. “How insane is it that we import ethanol from Brazil because these outdated models say that their ethanol represents a 50% reduction in GHG when we can achieve that here and now with U.S. corn?” said Durante. “We can provide a cleaner, low carbon, and healthier fuel than today’s toxic gasoline” he said.

The White Paper is part of an ongoing series and was published by the Ethanol Across America Education campaign. It is available on line

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