In Texas, Iowa State University researchers conducted a biofuels, bioproducts and biorefining study and found that using ethanol from corncobs for energy production may help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in China, if used instead of starch-based ethanol.
China is the third largest biofuel producer in the world, with an estimated ethanol production of 3.08 billion liters in 2015. However, the national average blending rate of fuel ethanol is merely 2%, 80% of which is from starch‐based ethanol. Corncobs are used to produce fuel ethanol in one of the seven biorefineries in China.
The study found that corncob ethanol has lower WTP GHG emissions than starch‐based ethanol, even when CO2 accumulated in biomass is not credited. The study recommends that as corncobs are abundant agricultural residues, the government should provide stronger incentives to encourage the industry to invest in corncob ethanol.