Abstract Nonrenewable energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with ethanol (a liquid fuel) derived from corn grain produced in selected counties in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin are presented. Corn is cultivated under no-tillage practice (without plowing). The system boundaries include corn production, ethanol production, and the end use of ethanol as a fuel in a midsize passenger car. The environmental burdens in multi-output biorefinery processes (e.g., corn dry milling and wet milling) are allocated to the ethanol product and its various coproducts by the system expansion allocation approach. The nonrenewable energy requirement for producing 1 kg of ethanol is approximately 13.4–21.5 MJ (based on lower heating value), depending on corn milling technologies employed. Thus, the net energy value of ethanol is positive; the energy consumed in ethanol production is less than the energy content of the ethanol (26.8 MJ kg −1 ). In the GHG emissions analysis, nitrous oxide (N 2 O) emissions from soil and soil organic carbon levels under corn cultivation in each county are estimated by the DAYCENT model. Carbon sequestration rates range from 377 to 681 kg C ha −1  year −1 and N 2 O emissions from soil are 0.5–2.8 kg N ha −1  year −1 under no-till conditions. The GHG emissions assigned to 1 kg of ethanol are 260–922 g CO 2  eq. under no-tillage. Using ethanol (E85) fuel in a midsize passenger vehicle can reduce GHG emissions by 41–61% km −1 driven, compared to gasoline-fueled vehicles. Using ethanol as a vehicle fuel, therefore, has the potential to reduce nonrenewable energy consumption and GHG emissions.

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