Friday, December 11, 2009
Ethanol and Water
A recent article has found that farmers in the Northern plains are using much more water to produce a gallon of ethanol than farmers in other parts of the country. This comes from a study about whether or not an increased use in bio fuels could drain the nations water supply. Ethanol industry advocates report that the study offer little new insight consider that a majority of the ethanol is made with rain-fed corn.
The study showed that farmers in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas use 323.6 gallons of water to produce one gallon of ethanol from corn, with only 3 gallons used for irrigation. That's nearly 20 to 30 times the amount of water used by the nations other two main corn producing regions. In Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and Missouri they use about 10 gallons of water to produce one gallon of ethanol, while the other region containing Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan uses almost 17 gallons of water to produce one gallon of ethanol.
The demand for water is increasing in various sectors, it places more and more stress on our already dwindling supplies. We are wasting a valuable commodity on a fuel that is only causing more problems for our environment than we can handle at this moment. Vice president of research for the renewable fuels association said " it's disingenuous to suggest increased ethanol production is somehow driving irrigated corn acreage. He quoted a National Renewable Energy Laboratory article that said 96 percent of corn used for ethanol production is not irrigated." The VP also noted that new technologies are being used to develop more resistant seed that require less water and are drought tolerant.
I believe we are only wasting more resources and time on a technology that isn't holding it weight. Biofuels such as ethanol use much more time and energy to produce then they give off. We are only digging ourselves into a deeper hole, other energy sources are much more efficient and plentiful such as electric. But many people in positions of power are making way too much money on the production and consumption of corn derived products.
Image from: http://lifekills.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/ethanol-is-bad.jpg