Corn-Based Fuel, Some Advantages and Disadvantages

As mentioned in class, my topic of research is very broad, so I have decided to focus on corn-based fuels and figure out the advantages and disadvantages of said fuel; the effects it has on the environment, production of food crops, and the difference between emissions of greenhouse gases of corn-derived ethanol and fossil fuels.

How Green Are Biofuels?” is an article that talks about different types of biofuel sources, like sugarcane, corn etc.  The article says that “corn-derived ethanol consumes more energy than produces.” It continues to talk about different sources of biofuels and some benefits each one has. Sugarcane for example is a good source of biofuels, it diminishes greenhouse gas emissions(like all biofuels), however the effects it has on the ecosystem is outrageous. Forest’s are destroyed and burnt down which than leads to more carbon dioxide released into the ozone. This is the type of negative effect that biofuels are raising, the initial idea of biofuels sounds like a perfect alternative to fossil fuels, however the processes of getting there is doing more harm than good, in some cases. Another detrimental effect mentioned in this article is the amount of nitrogen put into corn crops for the conversion of corn-ethanol fuel, this nitrogen input increases ‘trace gas-emissions’ therefore destroying the ozone. After mentioning some negative effects the article compares biodiesel to fossil fuels and goes on saying that second-generation biofuels, like switchgrass, is so far the best source of fuel in relating to environmental costs. Switchgrass is a non-food biofuels source, which benefits the fuel vs food issue and unlike corn-based ethanol, which farmers are being forced to produce more of  than other crops. Some of the main issues leading to the sufficient production of biofuels has  a domino effect, on the environment and the economy. Overall, biofuels is very new and has good potential in being the leading source of fuel, however some problems have to be resolved in order to be successful.


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