Ethanol is a clean-burning, high-octane fuel produced from renewable sources. At its most basic, ethanol is grain alcohol, produced from crops such as corn. Because it is domestically produced, ethanol helps reduce America's dependence upon foreign sources of energy. The majority of the ethanol in the U.S. is made from corn, but it can also be produced from other feedstocks such as grain sorghum, wheat, barley, or potatoes. Brazil, the world's other leading ethanol producer, makes the fuel from sugarcane.
Ethanol can be made by a dry mill process or a wet mill process. Most of the ethanol in the U.S. is made using the dry mill method, in which the starch portion of the corn is fermented into sugar then distilled into alcohol.
Nationwide efforts continue toward the commercialization of cellulosic ethanol production. Cellulosic sources for ethanol include switchgrass and other perennial prairie grasses, corn stover, grain straw, rice or sugarcane bagasse, wood chips, paper pulp and even municipal waste. The technology exists today to turn these cellulosic sources into ethanol, but research and development efforts continue to focus on improving the cost-effectiveness of the process.
Ethanol Production In The U.S.
U.S. Ethanol Plants
TOTAL CAPACITY (MGY)5,363.45,252.7
AVERAGE CAPACITY (MGY) 47.566.5
SOURCE: Biofuels 2006: Production, Supply and Reality
Ethanol Market Share In U.S.
Ethanol is blended into 46 percent of America's gasoline, most as E10.
Ethanol comprises about 3.5 percent of total U.S. gas consumption (140 billion gallons annually).
E85 and Flexible Fuel Vehicles
Approximately 50 million gallons of U.S. ethanol are made into E85.
E85 is available at 1,100 locations in the U.S. (including both public and private)
- Approximately 6 million FFVs are on America's roads today.
Ownership Of The Ethanol Industry
Taken together, farmer- and locally-owned ethanol plants make up 40 percent of the ethanol industry.
Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) controls about 25 percent of U.S. ethanol production.
- Other companies (such as VeraSun, Aventine, Cargill, U.S. BioEnergy, etc.) comprise 35 percent.
Ethanol And The Corn Crop
In 2004, 12 percent of the nation's corn crop was used for ethanol production.
In 2005, 14 percent of the nation's corn crop was used for ethanol production.
- For the 2006 crop, it is expected that 20 percent of America's corn will be used for ethanol production.
Additional ethanol information sources:American Coalition for Ethanol, visit Producers and Consumers, visit Fuels Association, visit Biofuels Coalition, visit Renewable Fuels Association, visit http://www.greenfuels.org.