Global Economic and Environmental Aspects of Biofuels  book cover
1st Edition

Global Economic and Environmental Aspects of Biofuels

Edited By

David Pimentel

ISBN 9781138374362
Published September 18, 2018 by CRC Press
453 Pages 71 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Biofuels and food are dependent on the same resources for production: land, water, and energy. The conjuncture of food, energy, and climate crises demands a new direction in how to harness agriculture to the joint tasks of energy-saving, emissions reduction, and food security. Global Economic and Environmental Aspects of Biofuels focuses on the all-important question of the efficacy of biofuels as a solution to the global energy problem. Written by a distinguished team from five countries and multiple disciplines including agronomy, petroleum engineering, ecology, and meteorology, the book addresses the use of biofuels produced from crops and various organic materials as alternatives or supplements to petroleum.

Key Features

  • Discusses biofuels within the context of the world population problem, food, malnutrition, resource depletion, and climate change
  • Asks the critical question whether the production of ethanol from corn, sugar cane, crop residues, and other organic materials has proven too costly in both economic and environmental terms
  • Analyzes the uses and interdependencies among land, water, and fossil energy resources in food versus biofuel production
  • Includes case studies on the economic and environmental impacts of biofuel production and use from the United States, Europe, Brazil, and tropical environments
  • Explores the future production of biodiesel and ethanol from salt-water algae and tropical palms, while recognizing the technological problems that must be resolved in processing these materials

This book examines key environmental and economic issues associated with the production of ethanol as a fuel, from corn, sugar cane, crop residues, and other organic materials. It brings together the opinions of a number of U.S. scientists and experts from Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Brazil, and highlights the remarkable agreement among the contributors on the pros and cons of biofuels as an answer to future petroleum shortages. This mix of contributors and opinions presents a well-rounded view of the subject that puts a spotlight on unresolved concerns and complexities that are often overlooked.

Table of Contents

Biofuels cause malnutrition in the world
David Pimentel
Biofuel and the world population problem
Mario Giampietro and Sandra G. F. Bukkens
Energy cropping in marginal land: Viable option or fairy tale?
Sandra Fahd, Salvatore Mellino, and Sergio Ulgiati
Can switchgrass deliver the ethanol needed to power U.S. transportation?
Tad W. Patzek
Biofuels, climate change, and human population
Edwin Kessler
Uncertain prospects for sustainable energy in the United Kingdom
Andrew R. B. Ferguson
Net energy balance and carbon footprint of biofuel from corn and sugarcane
Claudinei Andreoli, David Pimentel, and Simone Pereira de Souza
Water, food, and biofuels
Claudinei Andreoli and David Pimentel
The potential of Onondaga County to feed its own population and that of Syracuse, New York: Past, present, and future
Stephen B. Balogh, Charles A. S. Hall, Aileen Maria Guzman, Darcy Elizabeth Balcarce, and Abbe Hamilton
Energy production from corn, cellulosic, and algae biomass
David Pimentel, J. Trager, S. Palmer, J. Zhang, B. Greenfield, E. Nash, K. Hartman, D. Kirshenblatt, and A. Kroeger
Biofuels and world food and society issues
Philip McMichael
The potential of algae and jatropha as biofuel sources
Robert Rapier
Crop residues for biofuel and increased soil erosion hazards
Rattan Lal
Biofuels, foods, livestock, and the environment
David Pimentel

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David Pimentel, Ph.D., is Professor of Ecology of Agricultural Sciences in the Department of Entomology and Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University. His research and consulting accomplishments cut across many disciplines. Dr. Pimentel has served on Presidential Commissions and National Academy of Sciences’ Boards and Committees. He has authored nearly 700 scientific publications, written three books, and edited 34 books.


"Interest in biofuels is mostly driven by their relative carbon neutrality and adaptability to the existing infrastructure, particularly in the transportation sector. The gradual increase in mixing ethanol with gasoline has raised questions about biofuels, especially those produced from crops and food stocks. This book discusses several of these issues, including resulting food shortages, water use, and land erosion, questioning the efficacy of biofuels as a replacement for fossil fuels both economically and environmentally. Using case studies of several industrial countries, the book explores the limits of biofuels in filling current and future energy demands given population growth and improved living standards in developing countries. … Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and above."
—J. Tavakoli, Lafayette College, CHOICE, Vol. 50 No. 08, April 2013