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LCA Called Into Question in US Biofuel Debate

September 12, 2016

A recent study by University of Michigan Energy Institute scientist has estimated that using ethanol made from corn to power a car, will cause more carbon pollution that using gasoline.  This contradicts years of work by other scientists relying on life-cycle analysis to prove the positive impacts of biofuels.

 

The new study was published by Climatic Change and financially supported by the American Petroleum Institute.

 

Professor John DeCicco, who led the work, had harsh words for the LCA community.  “I’m bluntly telling the life-cycle analysis community, ‘Your method is inappropriate.’”

 

LCA assumes that all carbon pollution from biofuels is eventually absorbed by growing crops.  DeCicco’s analysis found instead that the plant growth from energy crops absorbed just 37% of biofuel pollutions, leaving most in the atmosphere.

 

The research was called “highly questionable” by Michael Wang, a Argonne National Laboratory scientist who has led LCA studies showing the climate benefits of biofuels.

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