Published on October 16th, 2008 | by Adam Shake
1,000 Gallons Water Per 1 Gallon Ethanol – How Green is That?
Water conservation has always been a hot button for aid organizations and environmentalists, and with a world wide lack of drinking water, and third world countries getting involved in the growing bio-economy, I think it’s time to look behind the curtain of the fuel movement that calls itself “green.”
Most of us are familiar with the “food vs. fuel” controversy that’s been making news, but in addition to this, one of the things that many people are taking a good hard look at, is water sustainability in reference to this corn ethanol fuel.
If we look at the raw data, it becomes apparent that it takes 1 bushel of corn to make 2.5 gallons of ethanol. Now that doesn’t seem so bad, until you ask yourself, “How much water does it take to grow that bushel of corn?”
Let’s look at some more raw data. Did you know that it takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce that one bushel of corn? That’s a lot of water for 2 and half gallons of Ethanol. Let’s take this thinking a step further. If it takes 2,500 gallons of water to create 2.5 gallons of ethanol, then it takes 20,000 gallons of water, to make 20 gallons of Ethanol.
Think of it like this, the average firetruck holds up to 1,000 gallons of water. Now imagine 20 firetrucks lined up side by side, that’s how much water it takes to make 20 gallons of Ethanol.
I realize that not all of the water that’s needed to grow corn, is fed to the crop through irrigation. In the United States, about 15 percent of a crops total water usage comes from irrigation. But the United States is not the only country that’s growing corn for ethanol. In the growing bio-economy, many smaller (and less water laden countries) are jumping on the corn bandwagon, and some of these countries don’t have the average yearly rainfall, or depth of top-soil that the United States has.
The best source of any type of renewable fuel, should be as environmentally friendly as possible, and until other technologies become available, I for one, will keeping my eye out for other options.
Photo courtesy of SouthernPixel via Creative Commons License.
Source: Domestic Fuel