Ethanol data keeps getting better

Dirck Steimel

The environmental scores on corn-based ethanol just keep getting better. Those improvements, which show up in study after study, are putting the clean-burning renewable fuel in a great position in the focus on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The latest ethanol study, conducted by scientists at Harvard and other universities and released last week, showed corn ethanol’s carbon intensity is 46% lower than that of gasoline. In addition, the study found that some corn ethanol, depending on how it's made, can achieve up to a 61% reduction in GHG emissions.

Those numbers are even better than those in a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) study from a couple years ago. That study showed GHG emissions from ethanol were 39% to 43% lower than gasoline. 

These numbers show that corn-based ethanol, and especially higher blends of the re­­newable fuel, can lead efforts to reduce GHG emissions in transportation.

Of course, many contend that electrical vehicles (EVs) are the only answer to reduce carbon emissions in transportation. But it just doesn’t make sense to rely on a technology that is untested, expensive and requires an entirely new charging infrastructure.

Boosting biofuel consumption means we won’t have to wait years, or decades, to trim GHG emissions. Ethanol is here, it fits perfectly into our existing fueling infrastructure and it reduces GHG emissions.

It’s already a pretty good solution, if you ask me.

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