In this activity, students conduct a life cycle assessment of energy used and produced in ethanol production, and a life cycle assessment of carbon dioxide used and produced in ethanol production.
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Appropriate for use in a high school AP Biology class. Too complex for a beginning biology or environmental science class.
When selecting alternative fuels, it is important to consider the relative advantages and disadvantages of each. This activity tasks students to assess the life cycle energy and carbon dioxide emission costs of gasoline, corn ethanol, and cellulosic ethanol.
Comments from expert scientist: This activity provides generally good explanations to the life cycle assessment science. Students should not get an impression that biomass is carbon neutral. It is good to emphasize that not all biomass is equal. Some biomass follows food-to-fuel pathway therefore they emit more carbon than others because they may cause land conversion and rainforest clearance.
Activity includes Teacher Instructions and Answer Key, Student Activities and Worksheets, PowerPoint presentations, and Supplementary Materials.
Quite a long and complex activity; well organized.
Chemistry background is required.
Several options are available for increasing or decreasing depth of content.
Informational PowerPoints include scripts for teachers
The activity includes two (optional) videos: Life Cycle Assessment of Energy, Life Cycle Assessment of Carbon (not reviewed.
Links to other resources are on the first teacher page