Fuels from corn byproducts worse than gas: Study

A file picture taken on September 28, 2012 shows corn in a field in Godewaersvelde, northern...

A file picture taken on September 28, 2012 shows corn in a field in Godewaersvelde, northern France. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE HUGUEN

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:17 PM ET

Using corn byproducts to make fuel may not be as environmentally friendly as previously thought.

Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln said using corn crop residue to make ethanol and other biofuels can generate more greenhouse gases than gasoline.

Removing the corn stover — the stalks, leaves and cobs left in cornfields after harvest — also depletes soil carbon.

The researchers said removing crop residue from cornfields generates an additional 50 to 70 grams of carbon dioxide per megajoule of biofuel energy produced.

Averaged over five years, the total annual production emissions would equal about 100 grams of carbon dioxide per megajoule, which is 7% greater than gasoline emissions.

The researchers said the results will not surprise farmers, who have long recognized the importance of retaining crop residue on their fields to protect against erosion and preserve soil quality.

The study has been published in the journal Nature Climate Change.


Videos

Photos