Here in Ann Arbor, there have been plenty of fireworks on this press release “Study: Biofuels increase, rather than decrease, heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions” about a new paper published by the University of Michigan. After reading this paper, I can understand what the brouhaha is about because there are quite a few other factors, for evaluating carbon emissions from bio-fuels, that were not included in the paper. If I were writing it, I would also have included information about carbon sequestration, for example. Plants take up carbon dioxide and expel oxygen. This respiration is what grows the plant and in point of fact, all the carbon in the plant is sequestered from carbon dioxide. If we look at corn, for example, The ear of corn is about 10% of the total biomass of the corn plant and the kernel is about 25-50% of that ear. The rest of the plant is ground up and plowed back into the ground. The point being is that a small portion of the sequestered carbons dioxide is actually used for fuel production. We can never get 100% conversion back into fuel from biomass so our sequestration of carbons dioxide is always net positive. This is, of course, just one example. There are many other factors that could have been included.
David Slomczynski, Ph.D; Geometrick Enterprises