The University of Minnesota has released a study on the benefits of three types of fuels: gasoline, corn-based ethanol and cellulosic ethanol. The conclusion was what most readers know: corn-based ethanol doesn't have that many benefits. Corn still needs tractors to be harvested, and some kind of fuel and/or electricity for distillation. However, the study doesn't discard biofuels entirely and puts an emphasis on the benefits that cellulosic ethanol could bring. For instance, the study calculated the total environmental and health costs of making each type of fuel. A gallon of gasoline was about 71 cents, compared with between 72 cents and $1.45 for corn-based ethanol and 19 to 32 cents for cellulosic ethanol, depending, of course, on the technology and type of plants used.

Reactions took very little time to arrive. Mark Hamerlinck, communications director for the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, responded with the benefits of producing domestic fuel and also on how farming techniques could be improved in the near future by farmers themselves. Martha Schlicher, vice president of Illinois River Energy and former head of the National Corn To Ethanol Research Center, also published a press release severely criticizing the study, stating that it put too many hopes in cellulosic ethanol, which is yet-to-be proven at on a large scale, and that the report authors forgot that corn ethanol can be made using sources of non-polluting energy.

[Source: Star Tribune and Martha Schlicher]


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