Feeds

Most biofuels fail green test: study

Swiss research pours cold water on eco claims

The next step in data security

A Swiss study has reconfirmed a common criticism of the use of biofuels as a replacement for fossil fuels: often, the “green” alternative merely replaces one set of environmental problems with another.

The study, by Switzerland’s EMPA – the Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology – confirms results the organization presented in 2007: while most biofuels can claim to produce fewer greenhouse gases, the cost is “more growth-related pollution for land used for agriculture.”

These agricultural effects include soil acidification and waterway pollution from fertiliser runoff.

The new study – available here in French – takes into account the fuels and the production chains, and the agency says it uses a more extensive dataset than the previous assessment.

While ethanol-based biofuels can have a better “ecobalance” than petrol, it’s highly dependent on the production methods used, particularly if the production of biofuels involves changing land use. For example, if farmland is switched to biofuel production, the report finds, assessment of its ecological impacts needs to take the likely deforestation needed to create new agricultural areas.

With the right inputs, the study found, ethanol-based biofuels have a better ecological performance than those drawn from plant oils. Processes in which ethanol production uses agricultural waste as the feedstock – so long as that doesn’t involve using wastes that would otherwise have broken down in situ and replenished soil fertility. ®

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Bacon-related medical breakthrough wins Ig Nobel prize
Is there ANYTHING cured pork can't do?
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.