Policy Implications of Allocation Methods in the Life Cycle Analysis of Integrated Corn and Corn Stover Ethanol Production

Christina E. Canter*, Jennifer B. Dunn, Jeongwoo Han, Zhichao Wang, Michael Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


A biorefinery may produce multiple fuels from more than one feedstock. The ability of these fuels to qualify as one of the four types of biofuels under the US Renewable Fuel Standard and to achieve a low carbon intensity score under California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard can be strongly influenced by the approach taken to their life cycle analysis (LCA). For example, in facilities that may co-produce corn grain and corn stover ethanol, the ethanol production processes can share the combined heat and power (CHP) that is produced from the lignin and liquid residues from stover ethanol production. We examine different LCA approaches to corn grain and stover ethanol production considering different approaches to CHP treatment. In the baseline scenario, CHP meets the energy demands of stover ethanol production first, with additional heat and electricity generated sent to grain ethanol production. The resulting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for grain and stover ethanol are 57 and 25 g-CO2eq/MJ, respectively, corresponding to a 40 and 74 % reduction compared to the GHG emissions of gasoline. We illustrate that emissions depend on allocation of burdens of CHP production and corn farming, along with the facility capacities. Co-product handling techniques can strongly influence LCA results and should therefore be transparently documented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-87
Number of pages11
JournalBioenergy Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


  • Corn
  • Corn stover
  • Ethanol
  • GHG emissions
  • Integrated facility
  • Life cycle analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Energy (miscellaneous)


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