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Life Cycle Assessment of Biofuels 101
http://www.glbrc.org/education-and-outreach/teachers-6

Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, U.S. Department of Energy

In this activity, students conduct a life cycle assessment of energy used and produced in ethanol production, and a life cycle assessment of carbon dioxide used and produced in ethanol production.

Activity takes about two to three 50 minute class periods.

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Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

A combination of strategies is needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The most immediate strategy is conservation of oil, gas, and coal, which we rely on as fuels for most of our transportation, heating, cooling, agriculture, and electricity. Short-term strategies involve switching from carbon-intensive to renewable energy sources, which also requires building new infrastructure for alternative energy sources. Long-term strategies involve innovative research and a fundamental change in the way humans use energy.
About Teaching the Guiding Principle
Other materials addressing GPe

Energy Literacy

Fossil and bio fuels are organic matter that contain energy captured from sunlight.
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4.3 Fossil and bio fuels contain energy captured from sunlight.
Different sources of energy and the different ways energy can be transformed, transported and stored each have different benefits and drawbacks.
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4.7 Different sources of energy have different benefits and drawbacks.

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:C) Collecting information
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C) Collecting information.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:C) Energy
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C) Energy.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:C) Resources
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C) Resources.
3. Skills for Understanding and Addressing Environmental Issues:3.1 Skills for Analyzing and Investigating Environmental Issues:C) Identifying and evaluation alternative solutions and courses of action
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C) Identifying and evaluation alternative solutions and courses of action.
3. Skills for Understanding and Addressing Environmental Issues:3.2 Decision-Making and Citizenship Skills:C) Planning and taking action
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C) Planning and taking action.
3. Skills for Understanding and Addressing Environmental Issues:3.2 Decision-Making and Citizenship Skills:D) Evaluating the results of actions
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D) Evaluating the results of actions.

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Learn more about the Benchmarks

Different ways of obtaining, transforming, and distributing energy have different environmental consequences.
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Appropriate for use in a high school AP Biology class. Too complex for a beginning biology or environmental science class.

About the Science

  • When selecting alternative fuels, it is important to consider the relative advantages and disadvantages of each. This activity tasks students to assess the life cycle energy and carbon dioxide emission costs of gasoline, corn ethanol, and cellulosic ethanol.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • Activity includes Teacher Instructions and Answer Key, Student Activities and Worksheets, PowerPoint presentations, and Supplementary Materials.
  • Quite a long and complex activity; well organized.
  • Chemistry background is required.
  • Several options are available for increasing or decreasing depth of content.
  • Informational PowerPoints include scripts for teachers
  • The activity includes two (optional) videos: Life Cycle Assessment of Energy, Life Cycle Assessment of Carbon (not reviewed.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Links to other resources are on the first teacher page

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