Dr. Michael Wang has been working in the area of evaluating emission and energy impacts of new transportation fuels and advanced vehicle technologies for over 16 years and from this research has reached an important conclusion:
Research results strongly suggest that Gas Turbine Combined Cycle is a crucial factor in the energy and emission benefits of biofuel production. — Trans Tech program
Dr. Wang bases this premise on data from a model that he developed for the Argonne National Laboratory. GREET (Greenhouse gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in Transportation) is a model for calculating energy use and emissions of various transportation fuels and vehicle technologies. GREET models life-cycle energy use, to include:
- Total energy use
- Fossil energy use
- Petroleum use
- Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
- Emissions of criteria pollutants.
Dr. Wang has something of a reputation as a “hired gun”. He has conducted studies to evaluate energy and emission effects of vehicle / fuel systems for U.S. Department of Energy, state of Illinois, the General Motor Corporation, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Recently, he was in the news because he claimed that many studies contradict the claims of Pimentel and Patzek.
In regard to the long-running debate, Wang and other researchers at the Center for Transportation Research conducted a similar study (PDF) and concluded that “producing corn ethanol requires 26 percent less energy than it contains, and that cellulosic ethanol, made from switchgrass and other inexpensive plant sources, requires a whopping 90 percent less, partly because its byproducts can be burned for energy to power the processing plant.”
“A review of Pimentel / Patzek,”? said Wang, “reveals that they made pessimistic assumptions, and double-counted certain energy costs without detailed elaboration.” Wang accused Pimentel and Patzek of consistently overestimating energy requirements for both farming and processing of corn for ethanol, including calculating ethanol plant energy use at 30 percent above actual figures. — Running on Empty?”
Research as part of the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership has included the study of DME as a fuel. Nevertheless, the results from the Trans Tech study favored ethanol over DME.