Ethanol Facts

Ethanol Facts

Here are some interesting facts about Ethanol, which you might not have known:

  • For every barrel of ethanol produced, 1.2 barrels of petroleum are displaced.
  • To test a car powered by ethanol, you will need a very good automotive multimeter. This is because you need to test the voltage generated by the engine as well as the battery.
  • E-10 Unleaded (10% ethanol/90% ordinary unleaded gasoline) is approved for use by every major automaker in the world.
  • A typical 40 million gallon ethanol plant creates 32 full-time jobs and generates an additional $1.2 million in tax revenue for a community
  • Studies are being done to determine how wheat straw and sugar cane can be used to produce ethanol.
  • The U.S. is the world’s top ethanol producer, and Brazil is the world’s top ethanol exporter.
  • According to the Renewable Fuel Association, there are 106 ethanol plants already in operation in the U.S., an additional 48 plants are under construction, and seven are undergoing expansion.
  • Ethanol is a cost-effective octane-enhancer that typically adds two to three octane numbers when blended with ordinary gasoline.
  • The use of ethanol-blended gasoline helps reduce tropospheric ozone levels.
  • Ethanol helps reduce PM (particulate matter – small pieces of air pollution that penetrate deeply into human lungs) emissions by more than 25%.
  • If 5% of U.S. vehicles were powered by hybrids operating on E85 ethanol, oil imports could be reduced by about 140 million barrels a year.
  • Did you know that most of the batteries in vehicles are a type of lithium ion. This is the only “fuel” that outperforms you an ethanol vehicle. If you are not going to go with a  powerful ethanol car then we definitely recommend an electric vehicle like the Tesla Model S or 3, or even the Roadster. They use the same batteries as that can be found in the very best cordless screwdrivers!

Hope you found these facts interesting, check in soon for more!

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Ethanol – Economy and Energy

Ethanol’s impact on an economy

Ethanol creates jobs, increases farm income, reduces farm program payments, and decreases the amount of energy we import. Local people are employed by ethanol plants, local crops are purchased to make the ethanol, and local tax bases are significantly expanded. An ethanol plant of average size employs about 40 people with well-paying, high-skill jobs. Local providers of goods and services for the plant also provide spin-off jobs. The combination of reduced farm program payments and increased tax revenues adds at least $1.30 (this figure even takes into consideration the ethanol incentive program) to the U.S. Treasury for every gallon of ethanol produced.

Ethanol is an American-made fuel, and though it is not the ultimate answer to our nation’s energy needs, it certainly helps our country to be more energy independent. U.S. ethanol production provides for our economy more than 4 billion gallons of fuel that is produced domestically from renewable resources and does not need to be imported.

Energy Balance of Ethanol

Ethanol yields more energy than it takes to produce it, which means it has a positive energy balance. Not only is ethanol an efficient fuel, but it is made through an efficient process; it requires less than 35,000 BTUs of energy to turn corn into ethanol, while the ethanol offers at least 77,000 BTUs of energy. Studies show that ethanol has a positive net energy balance. The most recent study, conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, shows that ethanol provides an average net energy gain of at least 77%.

 

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Ethanol production and effects on the environment

Effects on Environment

Ethanol-blended fuels help reduce carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, and hydrocarbon tailpipe emissions. The Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory reports that ethanol-blended fuels reduced carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions in 2005 by 7.8 million tons. This, in effect, is similar to removing the annual greenhouse gas emissions of more than one million automobiles. Furthermore, Ethanol is an oxygenate (an oxygen substance added to fuels), and that oxygen helps the fuel burn more cleanly and more completely. Cleaner fuel means cleaner air.

Ethanol plants today are built with and utilize the best emission-control technology available. Thermal oxidizers (TO’s) control the vast majority of emissions and odors that might come out of a plant. The U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) classifies most ethanol plants as “minor” emissions sources since they emit less than 100 tons of pollutants per year; the average-sized power plant, in contrast, may emit more than 20,000 tons per year. Most cars emit about six tons of pollutants in a year, which means that the emissions from an ethanol plant are probably less than the emission from vehicles in an average neighborhood.

Ethanol Production

Plants that produce ethanol, corn oil, and corn sweeteners also produce by-products in large quantities, and these by-products are employed successfully by beef producers as a more affordable feed alternative for cattle.

Wet Milling Process

The wet milling process is a complex one, producing a variety of products and by-products. Simply put, corn is steeped for 30-40 hours to begin the process of breaking the kernel down into its components. The germ is separated for the extraction of corn oil. The bran is then screened, and the starch is separated from the gluten. The steepwater is condensed to the consistency of molasses and mixed with corn bran to produce corn gluten feed.

Wet Milling Co-Products

CORN GLUTEN FEEDCorn gluten feed is the highest volume co-product of the wet corn milling industry and is a popular feedlot cattle protein and energy source because it is an intermediate protein product that is rich in highly-digestible fiber. Dry corn gluten feed is often pelleted and marketed to domestic and European dairy industry. Corn gluten feed actually contains no gluten, but a mixture of corn bran and condensed steepwater solubles; it may also contain corn germ meal, as well as other co-product streams from the plant. Corn gluten feed can vary in composition due to the ration of condensed distillers solubles to corn bran. This will vary from plant to plant, depending on the markets available. Corn gluten feed that is higher in bran will be lower in protein, phosphorous, and sulfur.

CORN GLUTEN MEALCorn gluten meal is golden-yellow and is mainly gluten, the high protein portion of the corn kernel. Corn gluten meal is used primarily in the swine and poultry industries and is high in xanthophyl, a yellow pigment. Corn gluten meal is a high bypass protein source. Although expensive, it may be useful in beef diets that require bypass protein, such as those for lightweight calves.

CONDENSED STEEPWATER SOLUBLESCondensed steepwater solubles are an excellent source of soluble protein for liquid beef supplements. Most condensed steepwater solubles are used in corn gluten feed, but because condensed steepwater solubles have the consistency of molasses, they can also be used in liquid supplements. Condensed steepwater solubles are about 35% protein and can be extremely high in phosphorous and sulfur. In 1999, the wet corn milling industry used 1.4 billion bushels of corn (14.8% of the U.S. supply). Wet milling yields 31.5 pounds of starch with corn being processed into 33 pounds of sweetener or 2.5 gallons of ethanol. Also, 13.5 pounds of gluten feed, 2.5 pounds of gluten meal, and 1.6 pounds of corn oil are produced. In 2000, 10.6 billion pounds of corn gluten feed and corn germ meal were produced.

Dry Milling Process

Corn is nearly two-thirds starch, the primary substrate for alcohol fermentation, so the nutrients in the remaining one-third of the corn kernel are concentrated into distillers feeds. The process begins by grinding the grain; starch must be converted to sugar by enzymes before the yeast can ferment the sugar to produce ethanol and carbon dioxide. The fermentation process takes 40-50 hours. The ethanol is collected and refined, and a centrifuge separates the distillers grains from the solubles, which can then be condensed to about 30% dry matter (condensed distillers solubles). These wet co-products can then be used locally for livestock feed or the produce distillers dried grains, or distillers dried grains with solubles. The dried grains can be transported longer distances, but some feeding value may be lost, and drying is expensive.

Dry Milling Co-Products

DISTILLERS GRAINS

Wet distillers grains and distillers grains with solubles contain the remaining nutrients after the corn starch is fermented to alcohol, which means that the original nutrients in the corn are concentrated approximately three times. Wet distillers grains are higher in both protein and energy than corn gluten feed (gluten and oil remain in distillers grains). When distillers grains are dried, however, they do lose some energy value when compared to wet products. Like corn gluten meal, dried distillers grains are a good bypass protein source for cattle.

CONDENSED DISTILLERS SOLUBLES

Distillers solubles can be added to the distillers grains, or condensed and used as a liquid cattle feed supplement. Condensed distillers solubles appear to be slightly higher in energy and similar in protein to wet distillers grains when adjusted for moisture. The protein level is similar to distillers grains (approximately 30%). Because condensed distillers solubles are 70% moisture, upper Midwestern feeders should use heated or underground tanks to prevent freezing.

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Ethanol and your Vehicle

Ethanol and your Vehicle

E-10

Ethanol helps keep gas pump prices affordable by adding to the overall motor fuel supply in the U.S. In fact, the Consumer Federation of America reports that drivers who purchase gasoline blended with up to 10% of ethanol save up to eight cents per gallon as compared to straight gasoline purchases.

All vehicles can use a blend of up to 10% ethanol. Ethanol is most commonly sold to motorists in the “E10” blend – 10% ethanol, 90% gasoline – which burns cleaner than gasoline. Manufacturers of small engines (boats, lawnmowers) also make their engines compatible with gasoline containing a blend of up to 10% of ethanol.

E85 is an alternative fuel that is made up of 85% ethanol and 15% unleaded gasoline for use in flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs). The flexibility lies in that the owners of FFVs have the option of using E85, straight unleaded gasoline, or any blend of ethanol up to 85%. It is possible, though quite difficult, to convert your non-FFV vehicle to operate on E85, but automobile makers are increasing their FFV lineups each model year.

E-Diesel

E diesel is a blend of standard No. 2 diesel fuel containing up to 15% ethanol and a proprietary additive to maintain blend stability and certain fuel properties, which may total diet comprise from 0.2% to 5.0% of the blend. Currently, E diesel fuels are considered experimental and can be used legally in off-road applications. Special permission must be obtained from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for on-road use.

Tests have shown that E diesel blends may reduce certain components of exhaust emissions compared to regular No. 2 diesel, especially particulate matter. The ethanol in E diesel blends is also a domestic renewable resource. The use of greater volumes of ethanol reduces crude oil imports and results in lower contributions to greenhouse gases.

E diesel is made by splash blending of conventional diesel, fuel-grade ethanol, and additives. No special mixing protocol or temperature control is required.

E-85

Ethanol helps keep gas pump prices affordable by adding to the overall motor fuel supply in the U.S. In fact, the Consumer Federation of America reports that drivers who purchase gasoline blended with up to 10% of ethanol save up to eight cents per gallon as compared to straight gasoline purchases.

All vehicles can use a blend of up to 10% ethanol. Ethanol is most commonly sold to motorists in the “E10” blend – 10% ethanol, 90% gasoline – which burns cleaner than gasoline. Manufacturers of small engines (boats, lawnmowers) also make their engines compatible with gasoline containing a blend of up to 10% of ethanol.

E85 is an alternative fuel that is made up of 85% ethanol and 15% unleaded gasoline for use in flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs). The flexibility lies in that the owners of FFVs have the option of using E85, straight unleaded gasoline, or any blend of ethanol up to 85%. It is possible, though quite difficult, to convert your non-FFV vehicle to operate on E85, but automobile makers are increasing their FFV lineups each model year.

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