June 24, 2010

Podcast: Ethanol producers, like farmers, are getting more efficient

In this podcast, Brian Nedrow, a member of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association and a farmer from Geneva, discusses a recent study shows that ethanol plants have reduced their energy inputs while at the same time producing more ethanol per bushel of corn.

He notes that, compared to 2001, ethanol plants in 2008 used 28 percent less thermal energy like natural gas per gallon of ethanol produced. They also used 32 percent less electricity to produce a gallon of ethanol.

At the same time, ethanol plants in 2008 produced 2.78 gallons of ethanol per bushel of corn. That’s an increase of 5.3 percent.

Nedrow said the findings may prove useful to state and federal energy policy makers who study the pros and cons of fuels based on their full life-cycle, or the total energy needed to create a fuel compared to its energy output and related greenhouse gases emissions.

The study’s author noted that biofuel refineries are in a rapid innovation phase. Certainly that is true, and it underscores the importance of using current data when talking about a life cycle analysis.

Ethanol production, like corn production, simply gets better over time. Looking backward with outdated data just doesn’t make sense.

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