September 19, 2011

FREEDOM film promotes ethanol

freedom Last week, the screening of the documentary film, FREEDOM, was in Lincoln, sponsored by Green Plains Energy and The Joslyn Institute for Sustainable Communities.

The film focused on the use of ethanol as the most sustainable fuel for transportation –the energy that is in the biggest demand. These important points were covered in the film:
  • Ethanol does not require more energy to make than it yields.
Argonne National Laboratory research has shown that corn ethanol delivers a positive energy balance of 8.8 megajoules per liter. The energy balance from second-generation biofuels using cellulosic sources is up to six times better, according to a study published in Biomass and Bioenergy Journal.
  • Ethanol does not take food away from humans.
Only 1 percent of all corn grown in this country is eaten by humans as sweet corn. The rest is No. 2 yellow field corn, which is used in animal feed, food supplements and ethanol.
  • Ethanol does not emit more greenhouse gases than gasoline.
A 1996 EPA study analyzing sources of air pollution confirmed that gasoline vehicles and non-road equipment are the largest contributors to vehicular gaseous hazardous air pollutants. However, another study showed ethanol reduces tailpipe carbon monoxide as much as 30 percent and tailpipe particulate matter emissions by 50 percent. Also, the Journal of Industrial Ecology at Yale University published a study in 2009 that found that greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by up to 38-59% when using ethanol as a transportation fuel.
  • Ethanol can be made from waste.
Cellulosic ethanol can be made from agricultural waste and biomass such as corn cobs and stover, wheat straw, wood, energy crops & even municipal waste.
  • Ethanol is cleaner burning.
Compared to gasoline, ethanol reduces every single tailpipe emission (CO; CO₂; smog; particulates; NOx and SOx) because ethanol contains 35% oxygen and results in a higher temperature burn.
  • 12 billion gallons of ethanol were produced in Canada and the US in 2010.
This will grow to 36 billon gallons by 2020. Currently, the ethanol industry replaces 364 million barrels of imported oil each and every year in the USA and Canada.
  • There are 8 million flex fuel vehicles already on the road, which is 3% of US vehicles.
We’re adding 800,000 to 1 million new flex fuel vehicles each year. There are already over 2,200 E85 and ethanol blender stations with over 60 E85/blender stations per month being installed.
  • Ethanol creates jobs and is good for the economy.
A major study by the Windmill Group identifies 645,000 jobs created by ethanol in the USA and $92 billion.
After the film, they had a three-member panel including:
  • Todd Becker, CEO of Green Plains
  • Cecil Steward, Pres/CEO of The Joslyn Institute
  • Lt. Gov Rick Sheehy
There was good discussion and interaction from the attendees. Lt. Gov. Sheehy was first to boast on Nebraska’s great position being the best situated for corn, ethanol and livestock production. The ethanol industry in Nebraska produces 2 billion gallons per year, which escalates into job creation, new technology and co-products to be used by livestock.

The discussion of first-, second- and third-generation biofuels was an important topic and Todd Becker explained how corn’s role is so important in that. In corn-ethanol production, one-third of the kernel is the starch used to make ethanol fuel, one-third is protein that is passed through to use in distillers grains to feed livestock, and the last one-third goes into CO₂. The role of second-generation biofuels comes into play in using the CO₂ to grow algae, for example, which is then able to make food, feed and fuel again.

For more on the film, watch the teaser below or go to

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