This activity asks students 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 critically analyze graphical comparisons of different fuels.
Students work through four parts, including a pre-assessment activity of their knowledge of biofuels and sustainability. In Part 2, they learn about corn ethanol and cellulosic ethanol. In Part 3, they complete a life cycle assessment of the three fuels and in Part 4, they complete a graphical analysis of the energy efficiency of the three fuels
The suggested time required is two or three, fifty minute class periods. Teachers have two different options for part two, that may change the amount of time required for the activity. Included are teacher and student pages, Powerpoint presentations, and supplemental readings and videos.