Office of Research and Development Publications

Air Quality Impacts of Increased Use of Ethanol under the United States' Energy Independence and Security Act

Citation:

COOK, R., S. PHILLIPS, M. HOUYOUX, P. DOLWICK, R. MASON, C. Yanca, M. ZAWACKI, K. DAVIDSON, H. MICHAELS, C. HARVEY, J. SOMERS, AND D. J. LUECKEN. Air Quality Impacts of Increased Use of Ethanol under the United States' Energy Independence and Security Act. ATMOSPHERIC ENVIRONMENT. Elsevier Science Ltd, New York, NY, 45(40):7714-7724, (2011).

Description:

Increased use of ethanol in the United States fuel supply will impact emissions and ambient concentrations of greenhouse gases, “criteria” pollutants for which the U. S. EPA sets ambient air quality standards, and a variety of air toxic compounds. This paper focuses on impacts of increased ethanol use on ozone and air toxics under a potential implementation scenario resulting from mandates in the U. S. Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007. The assessment of impacts was done for calendar year 2022, when 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels must be used. Impacts were assessed relative to a baseline which assumed ethanol volumes mandated by the first renewable fuels standard promulgated by U. S. EPA in early 2007. This assessment addresses both impacts of increased ethanol use on vehicle and other engine emissions, referred to as “downstream” emissions, and “upstream” impacts, i.e., those connected with fuel production and distribution. Air quality modeling was performed for the continental United States using the Community Multi-scale Air Quality Model (CMAQ), version 4.7. Pollutants included in the assessment were ozone, acetaldehyde, ethanol, formaldehyde, acrolein, benzene, and 1,3-butadiene. Results suggest that increased ethanol use due to EISA in 2022 will adversely increase ozone concentrations over much of the U.S., by as much as 1 ppb. However, EISA is projected to improve ozone air quality in a few highly-populated areas that currently have poor air quality. Most of the ozone improvements are due to our assumption of increases in nitrogen oxides (NOx) in volatile organic compound (VOC)-limited areas. While there are some localized impacts, the EISA renewable fuel standards have relatively little impact on national average ambient concentrations of most air toxics, although ethanol concentrations increase substantially. Significant uncertainties are associated with all results, due to limitations in available data. These uncertainties are discussed in detail.

Purpose/Objective:

The National Exposure Research Laboratory′s (NERL′s) Atmospheric Modeling and Analysis Division (AMAD) conducts research in support of EPA′s mission to protect human health and the environment. AMAD′s research program is engaged in developing and evaluating predictive atmospheric models on all spatial and temporal scales for forecasting the Nation′s air quality and for assessing changes in air quality and air pollutant exposures, as affected by changes in ecosystem management and regulatory decisions. AMAD is responsible for providing a sound scientific and technical basis for regulatory policies based on air quality models to improve ambient air quality. The models developed by AMAD are being used by EPA, NOAA, and the air pollution community in understanding and forecasting not only the magnitude of the air pollution problem, but also in developing emission control policies and regulations for air quality improvements.

URLs/Downloads:

Air Quality Impacts of Increased Use of Ethanol under the United States Energy Independence and Security Act   (PDF,NA pp, 1598 KB,  about PDF)

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Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (JOURNAL/PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Start Date: 12/01/2011
Completion Date: 12/01/2011
Record Last Revised: 03/28/2012
Record Created: 04/29/2010
Record Released: 04/29/2010
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 222645

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL EXPOSURE RESEARCH LAB

ATMOSPHERIC MODELING AND ANALYSIS DIVISION

ATMOSPHERIC MODEL DEVELOPMENT BRANCH