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Ethanol in gasoline: environmental impacts and sustainability review article


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  • Niven, Robert K.
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    This study concerns the use of ethanol as a gasoline (petrol) additive, at levels around 10% by volume ('E10') as well as an 85% blend ('E85'). By detailed reviews of the peer-reviewed and technical literature, five environmental aspects of ethanol enrichment are examined: (1) its purported reduction in air pollutant emissions; (2) its potential impact on subsurface soils and groundwater; (3) its purported reduction in greenhouse gas emissions; (4) the energy efficiency of ethanol; and (5) the overall sustainability of ethanol production. The study indicates that E10 is of debatable air pollution merit (and may in fact increase the production of photochemical smog); offers little advantage in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency or environmental sustainability; and will significantly increase both the risk and severity of soil and groundwater contamination. In contrast, E85 offers significant greenhouse gas benefits, however it will produce significant air pollution impacts, involves substantial risks to biodiversity, and its groundwater contamination impacts and overall sustainability are largely unknown.

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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews.

    Volume (Year): 9 (2005)
    Issue (Month): 6 (December)
    Pages: 535-555

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:rensus:v:9:y:2005:i:6:p:535-555

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    Keywords: Gasoline Ethanol Energy Groundwater Air pollution Environmental management;


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    1. Goldemberg, Jose & Coelho, Suani Teixeira & Lucon, Oswaldo, 2004. "How adequate policies can push renewables," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(9), pages 1141-1146, June.
    2. Rask, Kevin N., 1998. "Clean air and renewable fuels: the market for fuel ethanol in the US from 1984 to 1993," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 325-345, June.
    3. Thomas, Valerie & Kwong, Andrew, 2001. "Ethanol as a lead replacement: phasing out leaded gasoline in Africa," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(13), pages 1133-1143, November.
    4. Shapouri, Hosein & Duffield, James A. & Wang, Michael Q., 2002. "The Energy Balance of Corn Ethanol: An Update," Agricultural Economics Reports 34075, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    5. Moreira, Jose R. & Goldemberg, Jose, 1999. "The alcohol program," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 229-245, April.
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    Cited by:
    1. Sadeghinezhad, E. & Kazi, S.N. & Sadeghinejad, Foad & Badarudin, A. & Mehrali, Mohammad & Sadri, Rad & Reza Safaei, Mohammad, 2014. "A comprehensive literature review of bio-fuel performance in internal combustion engine and relevant costs involvement," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 29-44.
    2. Goh, Chun Sheng & Lee, Keat Teong, 2010. "A visionary and conceptual macroalgae-based third-generation bioethanol (TGB) biorefinery in Sabah, Malaysia as an underlay for renewable and sustainable development," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 842-848, February.
    3. Hira, Anil, 2011. "Sugar rush: Prospects for a global ethanol market," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(11), pages 6925-6935.
    4. White, Eric M. & Latta, Greg & Alig, Ralph J. & Skog, Kenneth E. & Adams, Darius M., 2013. "Biomass production from the U.S. forest and agriculture sectors in support of a renewable electricity standard," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 64-74.
    5. Sadeghinezhad, E. & Kazi, S.N. & Badarudin, A. & Oon, C.S. & Zubir, M.N.M. & Mehrali, Mohammad, 2013. "A comprehensive review of bio-diesel as alternative fuel for compression ignition engines," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 410-424.
    6. Masum, B.M. & Masjuki, H.H. & Kalam, M.A. & Rizwanul Fattah, I.M. & Palash, S.M. & Abedin, M.J., 2013. "Effect of ethanol–gasoline blend on NOx emission in SI engine," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 209-222.
    7. Costagliola, M.A. & De Simio, L. & Iannaccone, S. & Prati, M.V., 2013. "Combustion efficiency and engine out emissions of a S.I. engine fueled with alcohol/gasoline blends," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 1162-1171.
    8. Tom Beer & John Carras & David Worth & Nick Coplin & Peter K. Campbell & Bin Jalaludin & Dennys Angove & Merched Azzi & Steve Brown & Ian Campbell & Martin Cope & Owen Farrell & Ian Galbally & Stephen, 2011. "The Health Impacts of Ethanol Blend Petrol," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(2), pages 352-367, February.
    9. Robert Hahn & Caroline Cecot, 2009. "The benefits and costs of ethanol: an evaluation of the government’s analysis," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 35(3), pages 275-295, June.


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