Energies | 2019
Potential Reductions in Greenhouse Gas and Fine Particulate Matter Emissions Using Corn Stover for Ethanol Production in China
Corn stover is an abundant raw material that can be used to produce ethanol and reduce air pollution. This paper studied the potential reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) emissions across China if corn stover was used for ethanol production. Field surveys in nine provincial regions were conducted. Life-cycle assessment (LCA) was used to assess the GHG and PM2.5 emissions from a corn stover based ethanol system. The LCA system boundaries included several process stages from corn planting to ethanol fuel used in vehicles. Corn stover geographical distributions and emission reduction factors were combined. Results showed that the total surplus quantity of corn stover in China was 86.2 million metric tons (Mt) in 2015. It was sufficient to reach the ethanol production target set by the Chinese government. In the scenario that 38.5 Mt or 44.6% of corn stover surplus were used for ethanol production, the total potential emission reductions were 36.5 Mt CO2-eq GHG and 450.9 kt PM2.5. Among the 31 provincial regions in China, the reduction potentials varied from 0.001 to 8.9 Mt CO2-eq for GHG and from 0.013 to 109.7 kt for PM2.5. This study provided useful information to policy makers, researchers and industry managers who work on environmental control and corn stover management.