Carbon Sequestration allows ethanol to compete with EVs

Lindsay Mitchell & Haley Bickelhaupt

Jan 26, 2023  |  Today's News |  ICGA |  Ethanol

Carbon Capture & Storage Technology (CCS) offers Illinois ethanol production a unique advantage, allowing competition with electric vehicles.  


 The advantage stems from the Illinois Basin, a geological formation which includes Mt. Simon, a sandstone saline reservoir. For over ten years, ADM and the U.S. Department of Energy have successfully stored compressed CO2 from a Decatur, IL ADM ethanol plant in the reservoir.  


The porous sandstone feature of Mt. Simon, which lies below layers of impermeable shale rock, creates an ideal location for long-term CO2 storage. The basin becomes a competitive advantage for Illinois to capitalize on CCS.  


CO2 Storage is Important for Ethanol Production  


The ethanol industry consumes more than 700 million bushels of corn per year. The amount of carbon it takes to produce ethanol is important for Illinois farmers and the future of the ethanol industry.  


 A low carbon score, known as the carbon intensity (CI) score, creates domestic and export opportunities for Illinois farmers. 

When the technology meets regulatory requirements, and the rights of landowners and drainage districts are respected, CCS technology becomes a necessary tool to protect and grow the ethanol market for Illinois corn farmers.  


Lower CI creates more sustainable travel  


Reducing ethanol’s CI score is important as the United States and other countries move towards transportation fuels with a lower environmental impact.  


CCS technology positions Midwestern ethanol to compete with electric vehicles by lowering ethanol’s carbon intensity score. The technology brings corn-based ethanol’s overall CI score to near or below zero, equal or better than the CI score of electric vehicles.  


CCS creates a more competitive market for ethanol throughout the country and will potentially open new international low carbon fuel markets for Midwest ethanol. The technology also puts ethanol in a better position to pursue new opportunities like Sustainable Aviation Fuel.  


A lower CI score can also create additional international trade opportunities. As the world moves towards sustainable travel, this technology allows for ethanol to continue leading the way in low-carbon transportation.