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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(5), 478; doi:10.3390/ijerph13050478

Estimating Nitrogen Load Resulting from Biofuel Mandates

1
Environmental Technology Management Department, Kuwait University, P.O Box 5969, Safat 13060, Kuwait
2
School for the Environment, University Of Massachusetts Boston, Boston, MA 02125, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Yu-Pin Lin
Received: 30 November 2015 / Revised: 15 April 2016 / Accepted: 18 April 2016 / Published: 9 May 2016
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [2976 KB, uploaded 9 May 2016]   |  

Abstract

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 and the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 were enacted to reduce the U.S. dependency on foreign oil by increasing the use of biofuels. The increased demand for biofuels from corn and soybeans could result in an increase of nitrogen flux if not managed properly. The objectives of this study are to estimate nitrogen flux from energy crop production and to identify the catchment areas with high nitrogen flux. The results show that biofuel production can result in an increase of nitrogen flux to the northern Gulf of Mexico from 270 to 1742 thousand metric tons. Using all cellulosic (hay) ethanol or biodiesel to meet the 2022 mandate is expected to reduce nitrogen flux; however, it requires approximately 25% more land when compared to other scenarios. Producing ethanol from switchgrass rather than hay results in three-times more nitrogen flux, but requires 43% less land. Using corn ethanol for 2022 mandates is expected to have double the nitrogen flux when compared to the EISA-specified 2022 scenario; however, it will require less land area. Shifting the U.S. energy supply from foreign oil to the Midwest cannot occur without economic and environmental impacts, which could potentially lead to more eutrophication and hypoxia. View Full-Text
Keywords: biofuels; ethanol; nitrogen; SPARROW; EISA biofuels; ethanol; nitrogen; SPARROW; EISA
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Alshawaf, M.; Douglas, E.; Ricciardi, K. Estimating Nitrogen Load Resulting from Biofuel Mandates. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13, 478.

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