FD where is our fuel future headed

FD where is our fuel future headed - Chen 1 Kristin Chen...

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Chen 1 Kristin Chen Professor Peine World Inc. Research Paper 11.29.2007 Where is our Fuel Future Headed? Currently, dependence on fossil fuels has driven atmospheric carbon dioxide levels higher compared to any time during the past half-million years (Hill & Tillman, 2007). Furthermore, in the past century, the global population has increased threefold and is projected to increase by half again to nine billion people by 2050 (Hill & Tillman 2007). The human race’s exponential growth rate combined with our planet’s limited resources clearly has imminent and serious implications for global food and fossil energy consumption which are also predicted to double by 2050. For the past twenty-five years, questions about whether and to what extent ethanol could replace fossil fuels in the U.S. energy supply for transportation have been hotly debated in a variety of circles—scientific, political, agricultural, and environmental. Until now, corn ethanol has been the primary alternative to fossil fuels; however, its increasing production has placed three of our most fundamental needs—food, energy, and a sustainable environment— in direct conflict. Luckily, another eco-friendly alternative exists that can potentially resolve the sustainability challenges of the approaching decade. In pursuing alternatives to fossil fuels, focus should be shifted from corn ethanol to cellulosic ethanol in order to address the following challenges: terminating the strategic economic and political function of petroleum, providing food for the planet’s exponentially growing population, and regulating greenhouse gasses and other harmful emissions.
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Chen 2 Both corn ethanol and cellulosic ethanol are forms of biofuels which, unlike natural resources such as petroleum and coal, are renewable energy sources. Corn ethanol and cellulosic ethanol can both be derived from biomass. Additionally, biofuels are much more environmentally friendly than fossil fuels. Compared to the green house gas emissions of gasoline, corn ethanol derived from biomass experiences a fifty-two percent reduction meanwhile cellulosic ethanol experiences an eighty-six percent reduction (Wang). The main difference between corn ethanol and cellulosic ethanol are their sources of material; corn-based ethanol is derived from corn, whereas cellulosic ethanol is extracted from agricultural residues such as corn stover, straw, wood waste, switch grass, and other non-food crops. In fact, cellulosic ethanol can even be derived from municipal and construction wastes containing discarded biomass. Notice that corn ethanol is derived from only one source, which happens to be a food crop used for human consumption and livestock feed while cellulosic ethanol can be derived from a much more expansive variety of sources which include non-food sources and biomass that would normally go to waste.
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