What is ethanol?
Ethanol is an alcohol made from renewable resources such as corn and other cereal grains, food and other beverage wastes and forestry by-products. Ethanol-blended fuel substantially reduces carbon monoxide and volatile organic compound emissions, which are precursors to ozone. The corn-based substance is added to gasoline to reduce oil imports, reduce emissions, increase performance and reduce overall costs of transportation fuels.
What is the U.S. current production capacity for ethanol?
Approximately 13.7 billion gallons.
How many ethanol plants are in operation in the U.S. and in Illinois?
There are 204 ethanol plants in the United States, 14 of which are in Illinois.
How much ethanol does Illinois produce annually?
1.6 billion gallons, which uses 560 million bushels of corn
How much ethanol will one bushel of corn produce?
One bushel of corn produces 2.8 gallons of ethanol in addition to several valuable food and feed co-products. Using only the starch from the corn kernel, the production process results in vitamins, protein, corn oil fiber and other by-products that can be used for food, feed and industrial use.
Ethanol can also be used in several forms to meet the needs of our transportation. A 10% blend of ethanol with gasoline is the most widely available blend. More than 90% of our national gasoline contains 10% ethanol. In Illinois over 95% of our gasoline contains 10% ethanol. E85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, makes an excellent environmentally friendly fuel. Ethanol’s desirable characteristics (higher octane, cleaner burning, less carcinogenic) assure its viability even as new engine technology is developed.
Does ethanol cost more than petroleum?
Ethanol is cost competitive with gasoline while adding octane, reducing omissions and lowering U.S. dependence on foreign oil. More than 60% of our fuel needs are imported today.
What is the blend wall?
The Blend Wall is the name the ethanol industry gives to the concept that, at some point, we run out of gallons of gasoline to blend 10 percent ethanol into. When we get to the point that every single gallon of gasoline contains 10 percent ethanol, the usage of ethanol remains constant until we increase the blend of ethanol to gasoline. This flat line of ethanol usage is the Blend Wall.
( Ethanol fuel will actually reach the blend wall limit before 10% ethanol is in all of the gasoline due to infrastructure issues and location.)
Read more about the blend wall here.
What is the RFS2?
The Renewable Fuel Standard 2 is an update of the original Renewable Fuels Standards of 2007 in which President Obama and the US EPA outlined some specific rules for ethanol production and use.
Click here for more information.
Indirect Land Use: What is it and how is IL Corn Involved?
Indirect Land Use is an unproven idea that has been included as a concept in the Renewable Fuels Standard 2. Trying to speak simply, the US EPA has decided that corn-based ethanol production requires the conversion of more acres to corn production, those acres used to be soybean production and now soybeans must be grown elsewhere, and Brazilians are tearing down the Amazon rainforest in order to grow those additional soybeans.
The end result is that corn-based ethanol is penalized in federal rulemaking for the environmental impact of tearing down the Amazon rainforest.
This concept has very little science behind it. Illinois Corn has been actively fighting the idea, explaining that acres are not being converted to corn production, that corn-based ethanol is not responsible for tearing down the Amazon rainforest, and that this concept should not be the basis for federal policy until more science can be performed.
To read more about the Renewable Fuels Standard 2, click here.