Implications of corn prices on water footprints of bioethanol

Kyo Suh, Sangwon Suh, Timothy Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Previously reported water footprints (WFPs) of corn ethanol have been estimated based on the assumption that corn ethanol feedstock could be supplied by the same states where the corn is grown. However, ethanol conversion facilities may choose out-of-state feedstock suppliers depending on the total price of feedstock they have to pay including both the corn price and transportation costs. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the WFPs and total water use (TWU) of corn ethanol considering an optimal allocation of corn with heterogeneous corn feedstock prices across states. The results show that the WFPs of corn ethanol are less than 100. l of water per liter of ethanol (Lw/Le) for all ethanol-producing states based on both the 2008 corn price and transportation costs for rail and truck. Results also reveal that WFPs are very sensitive to the market price of corn and that additional greenhouse gas emissions due to corn trade between states are not significant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4747-4754
Number of pages8
JournalBioresource Technology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments. This study was supported by USDA/CSREES under Grant No. 68-3A75-7-614 .

Copyright 2011 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Corn price
  • Irrigated water
  • Processing water
  • Water footprint (WFP)


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