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Unintended consequences of bioethanol feedstock choice in China

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Economic, energy, and environmental impacts of 11 types of bioethanol feedstock in China were evaluated using a mixed-unit input-output life cycle assessment model. Corn grain and wheat grain had higher negative economic, energy, and environmental impacts. Sweet sorghum, cassava, sugar beet, and sugarcane showed better economic performance but increasing negative energy and environmental impacts. Cellulose-based feedstocks in general showed positive economic, energy, and environmental performance; but may lead to increasing negative impacts on freshwater use, global warming, toxicity, and aquatic ecotoxicity. Sugarcane-based bioethanol had the potential to provide positive economic, energy, and environmental impacts in China. Scrap paper-derived ethanol could also become promising under significant government support.


Tianzhu Zhang
Research Areas
Energy Systems
Agriculture, Bioenergy, Input–output Analysis, Life Cycle Assessment
Publication Type
Journal Article
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Full Citation
Liang, S.; Xu, M.; Zhang, T.-Z. (2012) “Unintended consequences of bioethanol feedstock choice in China.” Bioresource Technology 125: 312-317.