Date of Completion


Degree Type

Honors Thesis - Campus Access


Economics (ECON)

First Advisor

Dorothea K. Herreiner


There has been a controversial debate over the issue of whether or not com based ethanol is energy efficient in the United States. Most recent studies have reported that com based ethanol has a positive net energy value (NEV), meaning that it produces more energy than is required to produce it, but there are some studies that suggest that ethanol has a negative NEV. This study looks at the most current data regarding ethanol production, taking into consideration additional costs and benefits such as the greenhouse gas savings from ethanol and the potential extra emissions due to indirect land use changes. The paper also examines a potential opportunity cost, or next best alternative, to ethanol. Based on current data and looking at these additional factors, this study found that com based ethanol has a positive net energy balance and is energy efficient.