Third Generation Biofuels and the Food versus Fuel Debate: A Systems Perspective

By Bryon J. Parman, Vincent Amanor-Boadu, Peter Pfromm and Ronald Michalsky.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Biofuel from non-food non-agriculture feedstock, such as algae, is now touted as a potential solution to many of the challenges facing first- and second-generation biofuel production. This paper seeks to determine the extent to which large-scale algae feedstock production addresses the food v fuel debate. It accomplishes this by expanding the boundaries of inquiry to encompass the resource use-production system within a dynamic framework. A theoretical system dynamic model is developed to illustrate the effect of increasing third-generation biofuels production on environmental and socio-economic sustainability. The model suggests competition for fertilizer will begin to influence food production costs, leading to potentially higher food prices. An implication of this research is that third-generation biofuels may not exhibit socio-economic sustainability as long as their feedback effect on food production is recognized. This paper lays down the foundation for examining sustainability within a systems framework.

Keywords: Sustainability, Biofuel, Algae, System Dynamic, Socioeconomic, Biodiesel, Food

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp.287-300. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 905.307KB).

Bryon J. Parman

Ph.D. Graduate Research Assistant and IGERT Fellow, Department of Agricultural Economics, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, USA

After 6 years in the U.S. Navy I completed a B.A. in at Peru State College (Nebraska) in 2008 and a M.S. in economics from the University of Nebraska-Omaha in 2010. I am currently a Ph.D. student at Kansas State University in the Department of Agricultural Economics. At Kansas State I received an IGERT fellowship funded via the National Science Foundation to study socioeconomic sustainability of biofuels and bioenergy production. My current research at Kansas State University involves mass balances and systems dynamic modeling. Through collaboration with the Kansas State Chemical Engineering and Agronomy Departments, my research seeks to evaluate socioeconomic and environmental impacts of innovations in the manufacturing of chemicals as production inputs and biofuels as energy.

Dr. Vincent Amanor-Boadu

Associate Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, USA

Dr. Peter Pfromm

Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, USA

Ronald Michalsky

Research Assistant, Department of Chemical Engineering, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, USA

Ph.D. Candidate and IGERT fellow in the department of Chemical Engineering at Kansas State University.

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