Low Carbon Benefits of Corn Ethanol

FEATURED - Publications

This White Paper walks through the state of science as it relates to the lifecycle GHG emissions of corn ethanol and makes recommendations for updating lifecycle modeling used to inform low carbon policy decisions. 

American Coalition for Ethanol - White Paper - Published August 2018

Click Here to Read the White Paper

Retrospective analysis of the U.S. corn ethanol industry for 2005–2019: implications for greenhouse gas emission reductions

Argonne National Laboratory - Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining 
May 2021 - View Report


Carbon intensity of corn ethanol in the United States: state of the science

Harvard University, Tufts University and EH&E Inc. 
January 2021 - View Report

The Clean Fuels Policy for the Midwest white paper is the result of nearly two years of analysis and stakeholder discussion by the Midwestern Clean Fuels Initiative facilitated by GPI. The Initiative’s consensus white paper illustrates broad support for a policy by diverse interests. The paper is intended to inform further discussion of new and existing clean fuels policies and how they could be tailored to benefit the Midwest.

Great Plains Institute - White Paper - Published January 2020

Click Here to Read the White Paper

Closing the Transportation Emissions Gap with Clean Fuels

Rhodium Group
January 2021 - View Report

Engagement on Improvements to the GREET Model

ACE Executive Committee Member and Past Board President Ron Alverson has been been engaging with Dr. Michael Wang and his team of scientists at Argonne National Lab since 2014 on a wide range of important updates to the GREET model.

  • Update tillage intensity and land use change assumptions

  • Reduce CO2 assumptions from lime use by 30%

  • Reduce direct N2O emissions from fertilizer use by 20%

  • Will begin accounting for ‘4R’ nitrogen management

  • Create a Feedstock Carbon Intensity Calculator to help account for SOC impacts of individual crops

In the 2020 version of GREET, Argonne National Lab included a new Feedstock Carbon Intensity Calculator (FD-CIC). Following the latest update release, ACE sent a letter 12.18.20 with the Kansas Corn Growers Association and South Dakota Corn Growers Association regarding the FD-CIC tool in the 2020 version of GREET. While this tool will help account for upstream farming practice effects on the lifecycle carbon intensity of corn ethanol, it does not allow for a corn-specific estimation. Instead it simply uses an average corn-soybean rotation. Corn has superior soil carbon sequestration potential over soybean, so we think it’s unfair to average soybean into the corn effect. Our letter calls on Argonne to equip the FD-CIC to calculate the effects of individual feedstock crops, and in the future, requests that Argonne also account for 4R nitrogen management in the tool.


11.23.20 - Ethanol in a MW CFP
2.26.19 - Benefits of Ethanol
10. 12. 20 - Introduction to GREET
6.3.20 - GREET Model 101
6.3.20 - Policy Opportunities

Other Ethanol Reports & Publications

Lifecycle Energy & GHG Impacts

Land Use Impacts

Human Health & Air Quality

GHG Emissions Reductions due to the RFS2 - A 2020 update

Life Cycle Associates, LLC (for Renewable Fuels Association)

February 8, 2021 - View PDF

The impact of considering land intensification and updated data on biofuels land use change and emissions estimates

Taheripour, F., Zhao, X., and Tyner, W.E., Purdue University

July 20, 2017 – View PDF

Fuel Blending Guide for Ethanol: Identifying Sound Practices for Acquiring or Blending Fuels for Studies of Emissions Changes

Future Fuel Strategies (for Urban Air Initiative)

June 2020 – View PDF

A global metaanalysis of soil organic carbon response to corn stover removal

Hui Xu, Heidi Sieverding, Hoyoung Kwon, David Clay, Catherine Stewart, Jane M. F. Johnson, Zhangcai Qin, Douglas L. Karlen & Michael Wang

May 9, 2019 – View PDF

The social inefficiency of regulating ILUC due to biofuels

Khanna et al., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

June 26, 2017 – View PDF

Emissions from a flex fuel GDI vehicle operating on ethanol fuels show marked contrasts in chemical, physical and toxicological characteristics as a function of ethanol content

September 2019 View Article

The Greenhouse Gas Benefits of Corn Ethanol – assessing recent evidence

Jan Lewandrowski, Jeffrey Rosenfeld, Diana Pape, Tommy Hendrickson, Kirsten Jaglo & Katrin Moffroid

March 25, 2019 – View PDF

Measured extent of agricultural expansion depends on analysis technique

Dunn et al., U.S. DOE-Argonne National Laboratory, Genscape & University of Illinois at Chicago

December 8, 2016 – View PDF

Comparison of real-world vehicle fuel use and tailpipe emissions for gasoline-ethanol fuel blends

August 2019 – View Article

A Life-Cycle Analysis of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Corn-Based Ethanol

ICF (for U.S. Department of Agriculture)

January 12, 2017 – View PDF

Understanding the revised land use changes and greenhouse gas emissions induced by biofuels


September 2015 – View PDF

Bioethanol Blending Reduces Nanoparticle, PAH, and Alkyl- and Nitro-PAH Emissions and the Genotoxic Potential of Exhaust from a Gasoline Direct Injection Flex-Fuel Vehicle

October 2017 – Read Here

Review of John DeCicco et al. Article titled “Carbon balance effects of U.S. biofuel production and use”

Steffen Mueller, PhD; University of Illinois at Chicago Energy Resources Center

September 6, 2016 – View PDF

Response to Environmental Research Letters article, “Cropland expansion outpaces agricultural and biofuel policies in the United States” (Lark et al.)

Dunn, J. et al., U.S. DOE-Argonne National Laboratory, University of Illinois at Chicago & U.S. DOE-Oak Ridge National Laboratory

April 29, 2015 – View PDF

Air Pollution from Gasoline Powered Vehicles and the Potential Benefits of Ethanol Blending – A Review of Particulate, Nitrous Oxide, and Volatile Organic Compound Pollution

Energy Future Coalition Unite Nations Foundation

October 2016 – View PDF

GHG Emission Reductions from World Biofuel Production and Use – 2015

(S&T)2 Consultants Inc. (for Global Renewable Fuels Alliance)

November 26, 2015 – View PDF

Supporting Climate-Smart Farming Practives through Midwestern Clean Fuels Policies

Great Plains Institute

June 2, 2022- View PDF

Change in Air Quality Impacts Associated with the Use of E15 Blends Instead of E10

Unnasch, S. and Henderson, A., Life Cycle Associates, LLC

July 2014 – View PDF

Well-to-Wheels Greenhouse Gas Emissions Analysis of High-Octane Fuels with Various Market Shares and Ethanol Blending Levels

Han, J., Elgowainy, A., and Wang, M., U.S. DOE-Argonne National Laboratory

July 14, 2015– View PDF


Change in Air Quality Impacts Associated with the Use of E15 Blends Instead of E10

Unnasch, S. and Henderson, A., Life Cycle Associates, LLC

July 2014 – View PDF

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