CGRER members’ research creates clearer picture of sugarcane ethanol’s environmental impact

Photo by Sweeter Alternative, Flickr

New research shows that sugarcane ethanol production creates more pollution than previously estimated. University of Iowa faculty members, and Center For Global and Regional Environmental Research members, Greg Carmichael and Scott Spak teamed with researchers from the University of California and Chile’s Universidad Andrés Bello for this study.

Prior to this research, sugarcane ethanol was considered a more environmentally friendly fuel alternative to corn ethanol. The new data raises questions to that assessment.

Scott Spak explained the importance of these findings:

 . . . the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers sugarcane ethanol an ‘advanced biofuel’ with fewer greenhouse gas emissions than conventional biofuels like corn ethanol. These new findings help us refine those estimates and move closer to making more informed comparisons between different fuel sources, and ultimately make better decisions about how to grow and use biofuels.

 Read the full University of Iowa news release on the study here.

CGRER researchers develop air pollution prediction system for Santiago, Chile

Santiago, Chile. Photo via

Quicker predictions will help officials protect public health

In the Southern Hemisphere, the months of April, May and June mark the transition from summer to winter and usher in masses of stagnant air that often give rise to urban air pollution.

That’s why a study conducted by CGRER researchers — and published in the May issue of the journal Atmospheric Environment — that describes a system to predict periods of high air pollution is attracting attention in Santiago, Chile, a city of nearly 6 million people. Continue reading