Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
85racer

Water For Food, Or Ethanol? Easy Choice.

Recommended Posts

From Bee Culture magazine:

 

http://home.ezezine.com/1636/1636-2013.06.04.08.44.archive.html

 

What do you think Outlaw? I say keep the irrigators going!

___________________________________________________________________

New study predicts rising irrigation costs, reduced yields for US corn

 

 

Climate change raises stakes on US ethanol policy

 

 

Maybe We Should Be Growing Food, Instead?

 

 

If the climate continues to evolve as predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United States stands little to no chance of satisfying its current biofuel goals, according to a new study by Rice University and the University of California at Davis.

 

 

The study published online in the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science and Technology suggests that in 40 years, a hotter planet would cut the yield of corn grown for ethanol in the U.S. by an average of 7 percent while increasing the amount of irrigation necessary by 9 percent.

 

 

That could sharply hinder a mandate set by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) that by 2022 the nation derive 15 billion gallons per year of ethanol from corn to blend with conventional motor fuels, according to principal investigator Pedro Alvarez, the George R. Brown Professor and chair of Rice's Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. Alvarez is a member of the Science Advisory Board of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and chair of Rice's Energy and Environment Initiative.

 

 

The policy is based on the idea that blending ethanol into gasoline cuts harmful emissions from vehicles and lowers the nation's dependence on foreign oil, he said. But the cost in water may outweigh those concerns.

 

 

"Whereas biofuels offer a means to use more renewable energy while decreasing reliance on imported oil, it is important to recognize the tradeoffs," Alvarez said. "One important unintended consequence may be the aggravation of water scarcity by increased irrigation in some regions."

 

 

The authors of the new paper have long questioned the United States' support of biofuels as a means to cut vehicle emissions. In a 2010 white paper on U.S. biofuels policy produced by Rice's Baker Institute for Public Policy, authors including Alvarez and Rice alumna Rosa Dominguez-Faus found "no scientific consensus on the climate-friendly nature of U.S.-produced corn-based ethanol" and detailed what they saw as economic, environmental and logistical shortcomings in the EISA.

 

 

Their 2009 feature article in Environmental Science and Technology suggested the amount of water required to bring biofuels to market may be prohibitive; they calculated it takes 50 gallons of water to grow enough Nebraska corn to produce the amount of ethanol needed to drive one mile.

 

 

They suggested at the time that potential consequences to the water supply needed further study. With the new research, they have taken on that challenge and tied their models to estimates of how climate change -- reflected in predicted regional levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, temperature and precipitation -- could affect agriculture in the nation's heartlands.

 

 

The team built computer simulations based on crop data from the nation's top 10 corn-producing states – Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota, Indiana, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Missouri and Kansas. They also used estimates of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, and other elements from a number of models, including the government's well-tested Environmental Policy Integrated Climate (EPIC) model. They used the simulation to predict crop outcomes over the next 40 years in relation to expectations of climate change.

 

 

The researchers found states in the Corn Belt (Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Missouri) and the Great Lakes (Minnesota and Wisconsin), where corn growth is primarily fed by rainfall, would be subject to more intense but less frequent precipitation, especially during the summer. Maintaining crops would require a 5 to 25 percent increase in irrigation, which would in turn require more extensive – and expensive – water catchment infrastructure.

 

 

On the Northern Plains of South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas, where the growth of corn for ethanol already depends heavily on irrigation, the study found that crop yields would decline even if irrigation continued to be "applied as needed," the researchers wrote. In fact, the 2012 drought has already damaged Great Plains farmlands where long-reliable aquifers used for irrigation are beginning to run dry.

 

 

The researchers said agriculture costs the water supply in two ways: through the drawdown of groundwater from irrigation and through loss to the atmosphere via evapotranspiration (ET), by which water moves through plants and evaporates. Higher atmospheric temperatures increase ET at a cost to groundwater, they wrote.

 

 

The production of one liter of gasoline requires three liters of water, according to the researchers. The production of one liter of corn ethanol requires between 350 and 1,400 liters of water from irrigation, depending on location. A liter of ethanol also translates into 1,600 liters of ET water that might not directly replenish the local watershed.

 

 

The researchers suggested the growth of crops for ethanol was already questionable because of its impact on the environment. Rising temperatures in the decades to come, they wrote, could lead to reductions in crop yields and an increase in irrigation demands to the degree that the government mandate is no longer economically viable.

 

 

"The projected increases in water intensity due to climate change highlight the need to re-evaluate the corn ethanol elements of the Renewable Fuel Standard," Dominguez-Faus said.

 

 

Dominguez-Faus, lead author of the paper, is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California at Davis. Co-authors are Christian Folberth of EAWAG Aquatic Research, Dübendorf, Switzerland; Junguo Liu, a professor at the School of Nature Conservation, Beijing Forestry University; and Amy Myers Jaffe, executive director of energy and sustainability at the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What's interesting, my cousin and I went to Leola SD, NW of Aberdeen to pick a new BoarBot. When we left I 29 and headed west on Hwy 12 the lakes are getting bigger and farmers land is being reclaimed by the water. Not sure where the water is coming from but it looks like some one should drill a hole at an angle and drain that water back into the Ogallala Aquifer. My cousin said that the only problem with that is some pollutants might go down also. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The study ignores the use of water being shot down into an oil well to increase pressure and thus increase oil production.  The largest oil well in the Mid-East uses more sea water a day than oil pumped! :o

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

6 O'Clock News Kare 11 Minneapolis just reported that some Farmers cant get their crops in...to wet wont stop raining..luckily 87% is in ..but some of that could also be endangered if is stays cool and wet

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the statement

If the climate continues to evolve as predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United States stands little to no chance of satisfying its current biofuel goals, according to a new study by Rice University and the University of California at Davis.

is a hogwash. I can think of two major reasons ethanol hasn't taken off like it should be:

 

1) Ethanol DOES NOT HAVE TO BE MADE FROM CORN. Investment is needed in making it from other sources. Ethanol made this way would remain unaffected by climate change, at least in the context of this article.

2) We need fewer people that think E85 is a joke... people like my neighbor, who thinks the engine in a flex-fuel car will only last half as long on E85 as it would on petrol.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah gasisoutrageosu, point #2 annoys me. If you listen to David Blume of accoholcanbeagas.com fame, then it's just the opposite. He claims engine life triples on E100. That's out there, but I sort of believe what I see, and outlaw had a fleet of impalas that ran virtually exclusively on E85, and I believe he has stated that the transmissions went out in them with engines running quite well, over 200,000 miles. I'll take that as an endorsement for E85 in FFVs :) Some are still in service well above 200K

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

myths speak louder then facts unfortunatly.

 

How some people could believe that a cleaner and cooler burning fuel would cause damage, as opposed to the dirty hotter burning dino fuel that they love so much...

 

You just can't argue with stupid!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

myths speak louder then facts unfortunatly.

 

How some people could believe that a cleaner and cooler burning fuel would cause damage, as opposed to the dirty hotter burning dino fuel that they love so much...

 

You just can't argue with stupid!

 

Exactly this.  What amuses me the most are the zealots who only run E0 gasoline, whose only experience with ethanol was E10 in the early 1980's.  They can rattle off 5 different reasons why my engine will blow up tomorrow, and yet, it still works just fine.  Then they say I'm just lucky.  They never consider actually trying it themselves.

 

On the article, I see it as just more food vs fuel nonsense.  They never consider that the byproduct from corn ethanol production (distillers grains) makes a better cattle feed than the corn does to begin with!  Of course, these are usually the people that think that all the corn grown in the midwest is canned and stocked on supermarket shelves.  Duh.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

when my brother uses distillers grains, he will often blend it with ground corn, or even soybean stover... totally replacing what would have been alfalfa or corn silage...  acres that would have been taken out of "feed producion"... being displaced by "waste/by/co-products"...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...