Energy at a Glance: Ethanol and Biodiesel
Accounting for its effects on fuel economy, air quality, and food prices, biofuels likely produce net harms on balance.
- Ethanol and biodiesel are biofuels made from agricultural products.
- Ethanol has a lower energy density than gasoline, which means vehicles get fewer miles per gallon.
- Per unit of equivalent energy, ethanol produces more carbon dioxide than normal gasoline.
- Ethanol use in gasoline spiked after the banning of methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) and the passage of the 2005 Renewable Fuel Standard program, from 1.5 percent of gasoline consumption in 2002 to 10.3 percent in 2020.
- Ethanol fuels produce more nitrogen oxides (NOx) and other air pollutants, which contribute to worsening air pollution, especially in summer months.
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