An interesting MIT study reveals that biofuels can in some circumstances generate on average 10 times more carbon dioxide than fossil fuels, depending on how they’re produced. The study involved a life-cycle analysis of 14 biofuel sources.
“What we found was that technologies that look very promising could also result in high emissions, if done improperly,” says James Hileman, principal research engineer in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. “You can’t simply say a biofuel is good or bad – it depends on how i’s produced and processed, and tha’s part of the debate that hasn’t been brought forward.”
The researchers said that, for example, palm oil emitted 55 times more carbon dioxide if the palm plantation was located in a converted rainforest.”Severe cases of land-use change could make coal-to-liquid fuels look green,” says Hileman.
Such an analysis doesn’t shine any good light onto the biofuels industry, which is as sensitive as a feather when it comes to the life cycle analysis. According to the study, any disturbance in the cycle of growing the biofuel crops could lead to huge differences in the net carbon output.
The general idea is that we should grow biofuel crops on lands that don’t have any other use and find the plants that ultimately grow in such places, for the sake of not disturbing the already fragile ecosystem we live in.