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Global Warming and the Need for Liquid Fuels from Biomass (1998), Daniel Gibbs, BioEnergy '98, pp. 1344-1353,  Proc. Eighth National Bioenergy Conference, Madison, WI, Oct. 4-8, 1998.

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There were approximately 680 million motor vehicles in the world in 1997, with an annual growth rate of 2.7%, or a doubling time of 26 years.  Vehicle doubling times for populous emerging economies including China, India, Mexico and the former USSR range from 6-10 years.  Doubling motor vehicle use will add an additional 1 gigatonne C emissions to the atmosphere every year within 15-20 years.

In the U.S., switchgrass could be converted to ethanol to produce 50 billion gallons of ethanol, or the energy equivalent of 34 billion gallons of gasoline, 25% of 1994 U.S. liquid fuel consumption.  The net carbon reduction effect of switchgrass-derived ethanol will depend on the energy sources and requirements for production, distribution and use.  The low density of baled switchgrass and the wide geographic distribution of production sites pose problems to be solved, possibly through biomass compaction and large numbers of smaller, geographically distributed ethanol plants.  Further development of ethanol separation technologies which use less energy, and technologies to recover and burn biomass lignin are needed to achieve the carbon-reduction potential of ethanol from biomass.

Keywords: global warming, climate change, liquid fuels, ethanol, biomass, switchgrass

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