Thursday, January 3, 2008

Research: How Green Are Biofuels?

In an article published in Science, "How Green are Biofuels?," authors Jörn Scharlemann and William Laurance have returned attention to a study from last summer by Rainer Zah. Zah and his colleagues' conducted a life cycle assessment for the environmental impact of bioethanol, biomethanol, biodiesel and biomethane. Zah et al. state, "While the use of a number of biofuels can reduce greenhouse gases by more than 30 percent, the cultivation, processing and conversion of the raw materials into usable fuels cause quite an impact upon the environment." The results of their life cycle analysis show that Brazilian soy biodiesel, European rye ethanol, European rapeseed biodiesel, and US corn ethanol all have a worse life cycle impact on the environment than petrol (read the Zah et al. summary or full study).

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