Study Shows Ethanol Reducing Footprint

A new study indicates that ethanol production is continuing to reduce its energy and environmental footprint.

cutcThe study, entitled “2012 Corn Ethanol: Emerging Plant Energy and Environmental Technologies”, found that recent innovations in corn ethanol production have resulted in increased yield per bushel even as less energy is required for production. Thermal energy use at a typical dry mill ethanol plant has fallen 9% since 2008, the study found, meaning the carbon footprint of corn ethanol continues to shrink.

The authors, Steffen Mueller, PhD, of the University of Illinois at Chicago Energy Resources Center and John Kwik, PE, of Dominion Energy Services, LLC wrote in summary, “Our work includes an assessment of over 50% of operating dry grind corn ethanol plants. On average, 2012 dry grind plants produce ethanol at higher yields with lower energy inputs than 2008 corn ethanol.”

“Furthermore, significantly more corn oil is separated at the plants now, which combined with the higher ethanol yields results in a slight reduction in DDG production and a negligible increase in electricity consumption,” the authors concluded.

Listen to an interview with Steffen Mueller here: Steffen Mueller, study author

Read the study here.

2 thoughts on “Study Shows Ethanol Reducing Footprint

  1. Mueller does excellent work here as he did in 2008, but the title of this article is overblown. Ethanol yield is up only 1.4% in four years from 2.78 to 2.82 gallons per bushel, but the energy content per gallon of that ethanol is actually down 8.9% from 26,206 to 23,862 BTU/gallon. So the ethanol fuel energy yield per acre has actually decreased from 2008 to 2012. The difference appears to be that the missing energy is being extracted as a small increase in corn oil. The overall objective message of this research is that milling technology has plateaued and yields per acre are essentially unchanged over the past four years, and I would get better MPG with 2008 ethanol in my gas tank than with 2012 ethanol.

  2. Cliff,

    You are very funny. Less BTU’s in a gallon of ethanol and thus less mileage. The 23,862 BTU’s to gallon is the energy to produce 76,600 BTU’s and that is before the credit for Protein.