Ethanol is a useful, popular corn-based fuel alternative to fossil fuels. It’s provided many benefits to the United States’ economy and reduced fuel emissions. Here are three facts about ethanol.
Ethanol production begins with either starch crops, such as corn, or cellulosic crops, such as grass, though the former is a simpler and far more popular process. An ethanol production facility will dry mill or wet mill corn. Dry milling involves grinding the corn to produce flour and fermenting it to produce ethanol. Wet milling involves separating the corn’s fiber, starches and proteins to make various products, including ethanol and corn syrup.
Ethanol in the US is typically produced in midwestern states, including South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois. Most of this ethanol is distributed to the rest of the country and abroad via truck, train and barge, with very little being transported via pipelines. This is because ethanol is easily contaminated and requires its own dedicated pipeline, including storage and transportation.
3. Energy Efficiency
Ethanol is a more energy-efficient and cleaner alternative to fossil fuels, though it is still less energy-efficient and clean than green power sources, such as water, solar and wind energy. Ethanol has been shown to produce twice as much energy as is used to produce it. It also uses farmed crops rather than fossil fuels, which means there is less damage to land and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The improved energy efficiency of ethanol-based power sources means things that use ethanol for energy tend to cost less. Ethanol is most commonly used in automobile gasoline and has been shown to reduce gas prices when it’s included in gasoline formulas or used as an alternative fuel to gasoline.
Ethanol has several key benefits, including reduced energy prices, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel usage, improved economies in ethanol-producing states and reduced water consumption.