UNIT 3.3: Water Use in Bioenergy Production

This unit provides information on water use in bioenergy production. Significant amounts of water are needed to produce bioenergy. Water is used to grow crops and to process feedstocks into biofuel. The same amount of water may be used by a crop whether it is grown with irrigation or with rainfall only. However, the cost and impact on water resources is not the same. The amount of water used compared to that amount consumed by processing facilities is an important distinction in understanding water use in biofuel production.

This unit will examine these issues focused primarily on corn-grain ethanol production. Water use in processing facilities and bioenergy crops will be examined.

Guiding Questions

  • How has water use in ethanol processing facilities changed in the past 20 years?
  • What are some steps in Zero Liquid Discharge?
  • What is embedded water in ethanol?
  • What are the water advantages of processing facility co-location?
  • What are the water advantages to growing perennial grass and woody biomass?