Life Cycle Assessment of Biofuels 101

Middle School
High School
Stand-Alone Activity

When selecting alternative fuels, it is important to consider the relative advantages and disadvantages of each. This activity asks students to begin to consider the life cycle energy and carbon dioxide emission costs of gasoline, corn ethanol, and cellulosic ethanol. The various pieces help students trace energy and matter through a complex system and begin to critically analyze graphical comparisons of different fuels.

Supplementary Videos: Life Cycle Assessment of Energy and Life Cycle Assessment of Carbon

Environmental Science
Carbon Cycle & Climate Change
Plants & Photosynthesis
Sustainable Energy Systems
Life cycle assessment, sustainability, forms of energy, carbon cycle, systems, modeling, photosynthesis, respiration, combustion, fermentation
Prior Knowledge
Familiarity with the carbon cycle, types of energy, energy transformations
Time Required
Two or three 50-minute class periods
Required Supplies
Activity package and supplementary video materials