Rice n’ Grits: Quantifying Environmental Benefits of Bioenergy Crops through Complete Carbon and Nitrogen Accounting

Default ARPA-E Project Image

Exploratory Topics
Park City, Utah
Project Term:
06/12/2020 - 12/11/2023

Critical Need:

This topic works to establish validation sites for field-level emissions quantification of agricultural bioenergy feedstock production. These teams will work towards the development of “ground truth” solutions to establish measurements and protocols for emissions monitoring at the field level to create publically available, open-source, high-resolution datasets to support testing and validation of emerging biofuel production monitoring technologies. The projects will also compliment selections in ARPA-E’s full SMARTFARM program, further supporting and validating the selections made through this full funding opportunity. Ethanol production is one of the largest consumers of domestic grain in the U.S., and developing sustainable production methods for ethanol and bio-based fuels has great potential to both reduce emissions and potentially provide a net emissions-free source of energy. While the economic and emissions impacts of ethanol production nationally are clear, field-level contributions remain unclear. The lack of understanding of field-level feedstock emissions, combined with the absence of economic incentives beyond yield, leaves feedstock producers to estimate and assume risks to their primary revenue stream by new management practices. By establishing sites and protocols for measuring the impact on yield increasing and emissions reducing technologies, these teams will bridge the technology gap between feedstock producers and existing market incentives to de-risk sustainable management practices, defray the cost of monitoring their impact, reduce biofuel feedstock production emissions, and broadly enable a future carbon farming industry.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

Arva will establish validation sites where dedicated energy crops (corn-soy or sorghum) and crop residues (straw/stover) are used to produce domestic, sustainable, carbon-negative biofuels (i.e., ethanol, biodiesel, or biogas). Arva will measure carbon and nitrogen fluxes using state-of-the-art high-frequency commercial-scale monitoring towers to assess carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane emissions at sub-second resolution yearlong. All deployed farm equipment is highly instrumented, and will measure fuel, electricity, and fertilizer use, in addition to crop yield and management practices. This data will allow Arva’s artificial intelligence platform to construct a generative model for biofuel yield and life cycle emissions.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Marina Sofos
Project Contact:
Dr. Michael R. Schuppenhauer
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Related Projects

Release Date: