EGEE 439
Alternative Fuels from Biomass Sources

Lesson 11: Economics of Biomass Production – Ethanol, Butanol, and Biodiesel

Lesson 11: Economics of Biomass Production – Ethanol, Butanol, and Biodiesel


We’ve been going over the chemistry and processing aspects of making ethanol, butanol, and biodiesel, so now we’re going to throw in some economics! Cool! If the processes are not economic, then they won’t happen. The first part of the lesson will include some background information on the economic aspects of energy evaluation. Then we’ll focus on the current costs of ethanol, butanol, and biodiesel, and what tend to be the best sources for making biofuels. We’ll finish off the lesson by comparing the amount of energy required to grow, harvest, and make the fuel, to the amount of energy available in the fuel.

Lesson Objectives

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • describe background information on energy economics;
  • evaluate the supply and demand issues for ethanol, butanol, and biodiesel;
  • utilize supply and demand information to understand economics;
  • compare the amount of energy used to produce biofuel versus the amount of energy made available by the fuel.

Lesson 11 Road Map

This lesson will take us one week to complete. Please refer to the Course Syllabus for specific time frames and due dates. 


If there is anything in the lesson materials that you would like to comment on, or don't quite understand, please post your thoughts and/or questions to our Throughout the Course Questions & Comments discussion forum and/or set up an appointment for office hour. While you are there, feel free to post responses to your classmates if you are able to help.