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Table 4. Fossil Energy Balances of Selected Fuel Types

Fuel (feedstock)

Fossil Energy Balance (approx.)

Cellulosic ethanol

2–36

Biodiesel (palm oil)

~9

Ethanol (sugar cane)

~8

Biodiesel (waste vegetable oil)

5–6

Biodiesel (soybeans)

~3

Biodiesel (rapeseed, EU)

~2.5

Ethanol (wheat)

~2

Ethanol (sugar beets)

~2

Ethanol (corn)

~1.5

Diesel (crude oil)

0.8–0.9

Gasoline (crude oil)

0.80

Gasoline (tar sands)

~0.75

Data and Source Information

(2.62) Lorenz and Morris (5+) DOE

    • (10.31)

      Wang

    • (35.7)

      Elsayed et al.

    • (8.66)

      Azevedo

(~9) Kaltner

    • (9.66)

      Azevedo

    • (2.09)

      Gehua et al.

    • (8.3)

      Macedo et al.

    • (4.85

      –5.88) Elsayed et al.

    • (1.43

      –3.4) Azevedo et al.

    • (3.2)

      Sheehan et al.

    • (1.2

      –1.9) Azevedo et al.

    • (2.16

      –2.41) Elsayed et al.

(2–3) Azevedo et al.

    • (2.5

      –2.9) BABFO

    • (1.82

      –3.71) Richards; depends

on use of straw for energy and cake for fertilizer.

    • (2.7)

      NTB

    • (2.99)

      ADEME/DIREM

    • (1.2)

      Richards

    • (2.05)

      ADEME/DIREM

    • (2.02

      –2.31) Elsayad et al.

    • (2.81

      –4.25) Gehua

    • (1.18)

      NTB

    • (1.85

      –2.21) Elsayad et al.

    • (2.05)

      ADEME/DIREM

    • (1.34)

      Shapouri 1995

    • (1.38)

      Wang 2005

    • (1.38)

      Lorenz and Morris

    • (1.3

      –1.8); Richards

    • (0.83)

      Sheehan et al.

    • (0.83

      –0.85) Azevedo

    • (0.88)

      ADEME/DIREM

    • (0.92)

      ADEME/DIREM

    • (0.84)

      Elsayed et al.

    • (0.8)

      Andress

    • (0.81)

      Wang

Larsen et al. Note: Figures represent the amount of energy contained in the listed fuel per unit of fossil fuel input. The ratios for cellulosic biofuels are theoretical. Complete source information is in full report.

Clearly, some biofuel production pathways are more efficient than others, with climate being the principle determinant of efficiency. Tropical plants currently have more favorable energy ratios than plants grown in temperate climates because they

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