Minnesota Farmer

Corn based ethanol becoming more efficient
July 29, 2010, 6:32 am
Filed under: Biofuels, Corn, ethanol, Farm | Tags: , , ,

Some of the most used arguments against ethanol are being refuted by the USDA’s (United States Department of Agriculture) Office of Energy Policy and New Uses.  In a report released on June 21, the USDA released new numbers for the net energy gain from converting corn into ethanol.  The report titled “2008 Energy Balance for the Corn Ethanol Industry” found that for every British Thermal Unit (BTU) required to make ethanol, 2.3 Btu’s of energy were produced.  That is up from 1.76 Btu’s in the 2004 study.  A large part of the increase was the fact that farmers are producing more corn with fewer inputs such as land and energy.  The 2008 study does not take into account the newest improvements in ethanol production that will further raise the energy balance in producing ethanol.

This good news follows a report out of Perdue University in April that found that greenhouse gas emissions attributable  to corn ethanol production, including indirect land use change, were 10 percent lower than they estimated last year.

As corn and sugar cane continue their dominance in production of ethanol, perhaps the most exciting news in ethanol production is in the conversion of biomass to ethanol.  Plans by the POET group of ethanol producers to open their Project LIBERTY plant in Emmetsberg, Iowa continue to move forward.  This fall 70,000 tons of corn cobs will be gathered in preparation for the opening of the plant in 2012.  The new equipment needed for the gathering of this ethanol source has produced new jobs and new opportunities for rural America.  It’s good to see those jobs staying here in the heartland.



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