Anonymous asked in EnvironmentAlternative Fuel Vehicles · 1 decade ago

Ethanol- Corn vs. Switchgrass?

I'm doing a project on ethanol. What are your opinions on ethanol made from switchgrass and ethanol made from corn. What are there advantages and disadvantages. How would they effect the economy and the environment. Any information would be helpful. Thank you.

5 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    well for starters, corn is not nearly environmentally stable, it requires higher inputs more labor and the market for corn is HUGE!. however it is crop people know how to grow, it is more energey dense and can ship easier in regards to shelled corn versus whole stalk or even corn fodder. on the other hand switch grass is much more environmentally stable requires much less inputs and the purity can be quiestionable when the source is coming from CRP, BUT there is a LOT of land coming out of CRP 150 MILLION acres in the US, and people are looking for sustainable ways to farm this land as most it is not suitable for row crops. anyways, on a last note switch grass coming from CRP can produce in the ballpark 3-4 ton/acre, 6 if your lucky. Elephant Grass on the other can wil produce 10 ton/acre no problem and 14 if you manage it correctly. However it's an invasive species, is hard to plant and grow upwards of 14 feet which makes it somewhat difficult to handle. check out University Illisnois to learn more about Elephant Grass; google Bill Johnson Manager-biofuels division of Aliant Energy to learn more about switch grass.

    P.S. One other source the people at Aliant are looking at is forestry products, mainly the scrub and brush parts which they actually were burning but can also be made into ethanol.

    Source(s): I am senior majoring in Animal Science and have seen multiple people talk about this subject in Nutrient management and Forage Production classes at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville
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  • Brad C
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    Dont really know about switchgrass, but with corn I know its not really a great idea:


    -Corn can be grown here and we won't have to depend on other countries

    -Corn is entirely renewable


    -WE CANNOT USE OUR CORN ON FUEL (We rely on corn for food: its in chips, its in oil, its in high fructose corn syrup(which is in candy and soda, etc.))

    -There simply is not enough land to make enough corn to power alls(or possibly half) of the cars out there

    -Ethanol is even worse for the environment than fossil fuels

    -Ethanol costs more than gas

    -Ethanol contains less energy than gas

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I don't know anything about ethanol from switch grass, but I can tell you than relying on ethanol from corn as a new energy source would be detrimental. I am an environmentalist, and all for getting away from relying on oil, but we already import a large portion of our corn from South America, and we don't have enough land to grow the amount of corn needed to rely on it in anyway. That is not to mention the fact that 80% of our agricultural land is sadly used for factory farming and at least 80% of our total corn product unfortunately goes to feeding these animals (factory farming is the second leading cause of environmental damage/global warming) - so in short, ethanol from corn would environmentally and economically (because we would just end up buying most of it and a monopoly on corn would develop just like the oil industry) be a crap shoot. good luck with your project though, it is nice to see more project topics concerning environmental issues.

    • random_man
      Lv 7
      5 years agoReport

      We are a net exporter of Corn.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Corn is not the answer to our energy problems. It drives up the price of food, and competes with other agriculture for land. Switchgrass is not prolific enough to meet our needs. Soon, scientists will 'discover' that wild cannabis hemp is the right stuff. The plant needs very little care to grow. The seeds are very abundant, and are up to 80% oil by weight. The plant itself is covered in a layer of oily resin. Any pot head can tell you what a burning seed in a joint looks like. It looks like a tiny flamethrower ! I can only imagine how a couple of tons of seeds would burn in a steam powered, power plant !

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  • 1 decade ago

    The advantage of corn is that we grow a lot of it, and using it for fuel helps farmers.

    The disadvantage is that it's not a very environmentally friendly fuel, and it's also a food crop, so using it for fuel drives food prices up.

    Switchgrass is a much better fuel from an environmental standpoint, but the problem is we're not currently growing it on a large scale, and the technology isn't quite ready yet.

    See the link below for more info.

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