BIOFUELS

BIOFUELS

BIOFUELS

Ethanol is described as a renewable biofuel because it is made from biomass. A clear, colorless alcohol made from a variety of biomass materials called feedstocks (the raw materials used to make a product), fuel ethanol feedstocks include grains and crops with high starch and sugar content such as corn, sorghum, barley, sugar cane, and sugar beets. Ethanol can also be made from grasses, trees, and agricultural and forestry residues such as corn cobs and stocks, rice straw, sawdust, and wood chips.

Corn is the main feedstock for fuel ethanol in the United States because of its abundance and low price. The starch in corn kernels is fermented into sugar, which is then fermented into alcohol. From the EIA

Even though ethanol advocates claim that it is a green fuel source, industrial-scale corn farming comes with a large environmental footprint. Corn requires an average of 138 pounds of fertilizer per acre. The overuse of nitrogen fertilizer is what emits nitrous oxide (N2O), a GHG 300 times more potent than CO2, and increases nutrient run-off. Thus, corn ethanol may be worse for the environment than fossil fuels when considering the impacts associated with its production – i.e., plowing, growing, harvesting, transporting, and processing.

In 2005, The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was established by the Energy Policy Act and upgraded in 2007. In a nutshell, the RFS, which is administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), requires petroleum refiners to add increasing amounts of renewable alternatives into the nation’s transportation fuels. The motive behind the RFS was to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, curb America’s addiction to foreign oil, and catalyze the development of new biofuels. Of the 36 billion gallons of biofuel which will be required in 2022, up to 15 billion gallons can be produced from corn. In doing so, the portion of the US corn crop devoted to fuel has quickly risen from 11 percent in 2004 to 40 percent in the present day.

By displacing about 10 percent of petroleum at the gas pump, the ethanol mandate has done little more than expand the supply of gasoline, thereby helping keep fossil fuel prices low. As a result, people can drive more while buying less efficient vehicles.

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KEY RESOURCES

General Information on Running Biodiesel in Diesel Vehicles

04/25/20
Biodiesel is a direct replacement for petroleum diesel and can be used in any diesel engine without modifications. The first diesel engine was designed to run on peanut oil by German engineer Rudolf Diesel in…

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

04/20/20
Are biodiesel and vegetable oil the same thing? No, biodiesel is produced through a chemical process called transesterification which converts oils and fats of natural origin into fatty acid methyl esters (FAME). Combustion of vegetable…

Ethanol

03/10/20
Ethanol is a renewable, domestically produced alcohol fuel made from plant material, such as corn, sugar cane, or grasses. Using ethanol can reduce oil dependence and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Ethanol fuel use in the…

Biofuels Basics

03/10/20
Unlike other renewable energy sources, biomass can be converted directly into liquid fuels, called "biofuels," to help meet transportation fuel needs. The two most common types of biofuels in use today are ethanol and biodiesel,…

Tracking Transport

03/10/20
Transport biofuel production expanded 7% year-on-year in 2018, and 4% annual production growth is expected over the next five years. This falls short of the sustained 10% output growth per year needed until 2030 to…

Biofuels for sustainable transportation

03/10/20
Several compelling issues drive a national effort to develop and improve technology to make biofuels. Our dependence on petroleum for fueling the transportation sector threatens our energy security, affects our environ- ment, and weakens our…

Monthly Biodiesel Production Report

03/10/20
Biodiesel Highlights and Background, Data for December 2019.

Monthly Biodiesel Production Report

03/10/20
U.S. production of biodiesel was 133 million gallons in December 2019. Biodiesel production during December 2019 was 6 million gallons higher than production in November 2019.

MORE NEWS

Missouri biofuel entities now eligible for $200,000 grant

06/09/20  
The Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority announced June 4 the creation of the Biofuel Infrastructure Program to increase the availability of higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel in the Show-Me State.

E10 petrol: UK to standardise higher ethanol blend

Photo by Peter Macdiarmid   03/04/20  
Petrol grades in the UK currently contain up to 5% bioethanol, known as E5. The E10 blend is already used in countries including Germany, France, Belgium and Finland. Shapps said the proposed new fuel was…

USDA Unveils Details of Incentive Program to Boost Ethanol & Biodiesel Sales

03/02/20  
The grant funds will be available under the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP), whose purpose is to significantly increase the sale and use of higher blends of ethanol and biediesel by expanding the infrastructure…

In Midwest, ethanol and electric vehicle advocates join forces on clean fuel plan

By Frank Jossi  Photo by Don Graham   03/02/20  
More than two dozen organizations have been meeting for nearly two years in Minnesota to work on a “technology-neutral” policy proposal aimed at decarbonizing transportation, which has surpassed electricity production as the state’s largest source…

Biofuel could save oil companies as more transit goes electric

By James Osborne  Photo by Jon Shapley   02/24/20  
After years stuck in the doldrums of the American energy industry, biofuels are getting new attention from both established oil companies and a wave of startups that are quickly expanding capacity to produce so-called advanced…

Trump administration wants biofuels to be 30% of transportation fuels by 2050

Photo by Gerry Broome   02/20/20  
The biofuel goal is part of a new department-wide sustainability initiative, set to be announced Thursday by USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, which aims to boost farm production by 40% and cut the farm sector's environmental…

US Department of Energy to invest $300 million in sustainable transportation research

01/24/20  
The investment, which was announced by under secretary of energy Mark W. Menzes, supports the DOE’s goal of ensuring that as the transportation system transforms, consumers have access to affordable, clean, efficient and domestic energy…

Biofuels, explained

By Christina Nunez   07/15/19  
Biofuels have been around longer than cars have, but cheap gasoline and diesel have long kept them on the fringe. Spikes in oil prices, and now global efforts to stave off the worst effects of climate…
PBS

The Ethanol Effect

10/09/16  
From Iowa's farm fields to Washington's corridors of power, and from the algae-choked surface of the Great Lakes to the poisoned depths of the Gulf of Mexico, "The Ethanol Effect" investigates the human, environmental and…