Wallaces Farmer

Studies show ethanol efficiency keeps improving

More energy is produced from ethanol than it takes to make it, by factor of 2 to 1 nationally.

April 6, 2016

2 Min Read

FAQ: Is ethanol production really inefficient, as the petroleum industry claims? What are the facts?

Answer: U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently released a response to the oil industry criticisms. Vilsack cited two new research studies showing significant improvement in efficiency of ethanol production and other trends. One study was published by the USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist and the other study was published by the University of Missouri.


Vilsack said: "These research reports demonstrate, once again, that America's renewable energy industry has quickly expanded and evolved since the U.S. embraced an 'all-of-the-above' energy strategy beginning in 2009. Since then, we have more than doubled renewable energy production, and today we import less than half our oil. Improved and expanded ethanol and biodiesel production have saved Americans money at the pump. Our national security has been bolstered because we are more energy secure and also because our nation's military is a major commercial customer for U.S. biofuels.”

Many reasons to be optimistic about future of biofue
“And, as today's reports demonstrate, U.S. farmers continue to improve their efficiency in the production of corn for ethanol while the impact of ethanol production on corn production has become marginal. Between 1991 and 2010, direct energy use in corn production has dropped by 46% per bushel of corn produced and total energy use per bushel of corn by 35%. Moreover, between 2005 and 2010, direct energy use fell by 25% and the total energy use by 8.2% per bushel meaning that between 2005 and 2010, the energy required per bushel of corn produced dropped by about 5%.

He added, “The bottom line is, today, more energy is being produced from ethanol than is used to produce it, by factors of 2 to 1 nationally and by factors of 4 to 1 in the Midwest. There are many reasons to be optimistic about the future of the bio-economy and the role biofuels and advanced biofuels will play in that future, and I am confident this administration has acted aggressively to expand the groundwork to support that brighter future."

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