Economic and Environmental Transportation Effects of Large-Scale Ethanol Production and Distribution in the United States

The U.S. Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) has a target of 136 billion L/yr of biofuels by 2022. For 2007, the current and planned ethanol production capacity is 50 billion L/yr, which is one third of the 2022 target. The current research aims to analyze environmental impacts and costs for substituting E85 (85% ethanol, 15% gasoline) for a portion of U.S. gasoline demand. A linear optimization model is used for the distribution of the alternative fuel, which would be obtained from a mix of corn-based and cellulosic switchgrass-based ethanol. Depending on transportation mode and distance, the estimated average delivered ethanol costs range from $0.29 to $0.62 per liter ($1.30-2.80 per gallon), in 2005 dollars. The results of the modeling suggest that emissions from ethanol distribution could be substantial. When additional transportation requirements for cellulosic ethanol feedstock are taken into account, total life cycle emissions could as much as double. Because the final ethanol product is cheaper to transport than biomass feedstocks, it makes sense to locate the refineries closer to the feedstock source than to the end user. In addition, it is also recommended to make use of regional high-level ethanol blends, rather than a national low-level blend. Current ethanol consumption patterns are strongly influenced by local and state regulations and policies and competitive forces. Therefore, the widespread implementation of ethanol as an alternative fuel must be carefully planned in order to successfully achieve its potential economic and environmental benefits.


  • English

Media Info

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01686171
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: NTL, TRIS
  • Created Date: Oct 1 2018 2:52PM