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Life-cycle Water Quantity and Water Quality Implications of Biofuels

Water consumption and water quality continue to be key factors affecting environmental sustainability in biofuel production. This review covers the findings from biofuel water analyses published over the past 2 years to underscore the progress made, and to highlight advancements in understanding the interactions among increased production and water demand, water resource availability, and potential changes in water quality. We focus on two key areas: water footprint assessment and watershed modeling. Results revealed that miscanthus-, switchgrass-, and forest wood-based biofuels all have promising blue and grey water footprints. Alternative water resources have been explored for algae production, and challenges remain. A most noticeable improvement in the analysis of life-cycle water consumption is the adoption of geospatial analysis and watershed modeling to generate a spatially explicit water footprint at a finer scale (e.g., multi-state region, state, and county scales) to address the impacts of land use change and climate on the water footprint in a landscape with a mixed biofuel feedstock.

May Wu , Zhonglong Zhang , Yiwen Chiu
Contact Person
May Wu
Contact Organization
Argonne National Laboratory
Contact Phone
Contact Email
Publication Date
DOI is live on OSTI.
Project Title
Impact of Projected Biofuel Production on Water Use and Water Quality
WBS Project Number
Funded from the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Bioenergy Technologies Office.