Energy Balance

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Submitted By jcgee96
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Production of biofuels from raw materials requires energy (for farming, transport and conversion to final product, and the production / application of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides), and has environmental consequences.[28]
The energy balance of a biofuel (sometimes called "Net energy gain" and EROEI) is determined by the amount of energy put into the manufacture of fuel compared to the amount of energy released when it is burned in a vehicle. This varies by feedstock and according to the assumptions used. Biodiesel made from sunflowers may produce only 0.46 times the input rate of fuel energy.[29] Biodiesel made from soybeans may produce 3.2 times the input rate of fossil fuels.[30] This compares to 0.805 for gasoline and 0.843 for diesel made from petroleum.[31] Biofuels may require higher energy input per unit of BTU energy content produced than fossil fuels: petroleum can be pumped out of the ground and processed more efficiently than biofuels can be grown and processed. However, this is not necessarily a reason to use oil instead of biofuels, nor does it have an impact on the environmental benefits provided by a given biofuel.
Studies have been done that calculate energy balances for biofuel production. Some of these show large differences depending on the biomass feedstock used and location.[32]
To explain one specific example, a June 17, 2006 editorial in the Wall. St. Journal stated, "The most widely cited research on this subject comes from Cornell's David Pimental and Berkeley's Ted Patzek. They've found that it takes more than a gallon of fossil fuel to make one gallon of ethanol — 29% more. That's because it takes enormous amounts of fossil-fuel energy to grow corn (using fertilizer and irrigation), to transport the crops and then to turn that corn into ethanol."[33]
Life cycle assessments of biofuel production show that under…...

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