Could Biofuels Replace a Large Fraction of the U.S. Petroleum Demand?


Sustainability of large-scale biofuel domestic production is a serious concern. A new model has been developed at the DOE Great Lakes BioEnergy Research Center to assess the potential impact of existing and emerging technologies for the production of biofuels and animal feed. The model assumes that all land used for human food, forests, rangeland, and most other uses will not be affected by the production of bioenergy and animal feed. The only land considered for these technologies is currently allocated to animal feed and corn ethanol. The technologies considered in this study include separating and concentrating leaf protein, pretreating forage, and double cropping where possible. These results outlined in a recent article in Environmental Science & Technology indicate the potential for annual production of about 100 billion gallons of ethanol with no impact on domestic food production or indirect land use change, while significantly reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, increasing soil fertility, and promoting biodiversity.


Dale B., Bals B., Kim S., and Eranki P., “Biofuels Done Right: Land Efficient Animal Feeds Enable Large Environmental and Energy Benefits,” Environ. Sci. Technol, 10.1021/es101864b, October 7, 2010.