August 21, 2015

Fields Of Fuel: Corn Ethanol Strong But Uncertainty Exists For Other Biofuels

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Corn ethanol pump for E10 through E15 mixtures.

Gabriella Dunn/IowaWatch

Corn ethanol pump for E10 through E15 mixtures.

Experts familiar with the biofuel industry say corn ethanol production will remain steady despite the fact that regulators proposed reducing federal renewable fuel requirements. That steady production is partially driven by corn ethanol’s secondary benefits, which include the production of grain feed for livestock.

The goal of the Renewable Fuel Standard is to produce a total of 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel by 2022.

But while corn ethanol will stay strong, policy uncertainties have likely stalled the production of advanced biofuels, the kind of cellulosic formulas such as those made from tall grasses and stalks.

In this series, we take a look at U.S. renewable fuel policy, corn ethanol and advanced biofuels.

Renewable Fuels

BP cuts funding for ‘most promising’ biofuel

The BP gas station on Philo Road in Urbana, Ill., on March 5, 2015.With major cuts in funding, the future is unclear for cellulosic biofuels, an energy source researchers have called “the most promising” of all biofuels. Biofuels are an alternative energy source to petroleum fuel and can be produced from corn, oil or plant material. The fuels are appealing to those looking to reduce carbon emissions and decrease reliance on foreign oil.

Three things you may not know about ethanol

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign professor Madu Khanna on Feb. 2 ,2015.Every time you put gas in your car, you’re adding a bit of renewable fuel to your tank, as well. You may not notice since renewable fuels are government-mandated, and they only save you a few pennies per gallon of gasoline, according to industry experts. But behind the scenes, there is complex policy that goes into adding that renewable fuel into your gasoline. Here are some pieces of information that break down how renewable fuel production works.


Advanced biofuels face uncertain future

Eric Rund holds cuttings as the family farmer harvests miscanthus just south of Villa Grove, Ill., on March 6, 2015.The delay in proposed renewable fuel minimums by the Environmental Protection Agency may have hindered the future of advanced biofuels, the kind of cellulosic ethanol formulas made from tall grasses and stalks. Although researchers tout advanced biofuels’ environmental benefits, the uncertain policy has caused some in the agriculture industry to shy away from them.


 

THIS SERIES WAS PRODUCED BY THE MIDWEST CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING, WHICH PRODUCES STORIES AT THE INVESTIGATE MIDWEST WEBSITE. LEARN MORE ABOUT THE CENTER AT www.investigatemidwest.org
READ MORE INVESTIGATE MIDWEST STORIES ON CORN ETHANOL AND BIOFUELS HERE

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