Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Fun Farm Facts--Ethanol

I went on a field trip to an on-farm ethanol generating plant a week ago. Fascinating stuff! This farm has the potential to produce more 50% ethanol than they can use in all their farm machinery--all in a corner of one of their barns. They have converted most of their trucks and tractors to use the ethanol as an injected supplement to the diesel that they already burn in the tank. (Forgive me for the lack of detail in this area--engines and fuel are like hocus-pocus to me.)

After the ethanol is produced, they have a "by-product" called distillers grain that is worth more than the ethanol itself--a high protein feed that cattle growers love to use.

Unfortunately, the "plant" has stood idle for many months, due to (perhaps) overzealous regulations. We've been victims of this regulatory purgatory at times, and it's a hard place to be. Waiting, wondering...

In honor of this farm family, today's farm fun facts are about ethanol.
  • Ethanol is made from field corn, not food-grade corn.
  • 100% of the nutritional vlue of corn is maintained in distillers grain when corn is converted to ethanol.
  • Ethanol adds oxygen to gasoline, which helps it burn cleaner than petroleum and reduced harmful tailpipe emissions by 48 - 59%.
  • Each barrel of ethanol replaces 1.2 barrels of oil.
  • It takes 44 gallons of water to refine one gallon of oil and only 2.7 gallons of water to process one gallon of ethanol.
  • On average, one acre of corn can be processed into 431 gallons of ethanol and 2,616 pounds of distillers grain.

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