From: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Published October 24, 2017 11:20 AM

Expanding Brazilian sugarcane could dent global CO2 emissions

Vastly expanding sugarcane production in Brazil for conversion to ethanol could reduce current global carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 5.6 percent, researchers report in the journal Nature Climate Change.

This would be a massive undertaking, involving the conversion of hundreds of thousands of square miles — at its most ambitious, more than the combined land area of Texas and California — to sugarcane fields. But it can be accomplished without impinging on environmentally sensitive areas in Brazil and while allowing for the expansion of other agricultural crops and human needs, the researchers report.

The carbon-related costs of converting the land to sugarcane fields were included in the analysis.

The research relied on a new approach to modeling the precise behavior of sugarcane crops growing in regions that vary in soil composition, temperature, rainfall and numerous other parameters, said Stephen P. Long , a University of Illinois professor of crop sciences and plant biology who led the analysis with an international team that included scientists from the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil.

Continue reading at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Photo: Unlike the U.S., Brazil uses almost all of the sugarcane plant for energy, extracting the sugar to make ethanol but also burning the leaves and stems to generate electricity. Credit: Jaykayl

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