Is Corn Used For Ethanol Edible
Edward R. Forte
December 1, 2021
As other countries' economies grow, the appetite for this finite energy source increases, placing greater pressure on the resource itself and the environment at large.I'm a mechanical engineer in the lab's Transportation Technology R&D Center, so I've spent a lot of time researching ethanol.Argonne National Laboratory research has shown that corn ethanol delivers a positive energy balance of 8.8 megajoules per liter.The energy balance from second-generation biofuels using cellulosic sources is up to six times better, according to a study published in Biomass and Bioenergy Journal.2 yellow field corn, which is indigestible to humans and used in animal feed, food supplements and ethanol.Additionally, the food-versus-fuel debate has spurred significant research and development of second-generation biofuels like cellulosic ethanol that do not use food crops.Studies from the U.S. Department of Energy suggest the United States has enough non-edible biomass to produce approximately 30 percent of our total transportation fuel requirements by 2030. .
It's Time to Rethink America's Corn System
Nothing dominates the American landscape like corn.So why do we, as a nation, grow so much corn?However, many are beginning to question corn as a system: how it dominates American agriculture compared with other farming systems; how in America it is used primarily for ethanol, animal feed and high-fructose corn syrup; how it consumes natural resources; and how it receives preferential treatment from our government.The current corn system is not a good thing for America for four major reasons.The American corn system is inefficient at feeding people.Although U.S. corn is a highly productive crop, with typical yields between 140 and 160 bushels per acre, the resulting delivery of food by the corn system is far lower.What this all means is that little of the corn crop actually ends up feeding American people.The average Iowa cornfield has the potential to deliver more than 15 million calories per acre each year (enough to sustain 14 people per acre, with a 3,000 calorie-per-day diet, if we ate all of the corn ourselves), but with the current allocation of corn to ethanol and animal production, we end up with an estimated 3 million calories of food per acre per year, mainly as dairy and meat products, enough to sustain only three people per acre.In short, the corn crop is highly productive, but the corn system is aligned to feed cars and animals instead of feeding people.The corn system uses a large amount of natural resources.That leaves us with a less diverse American agricultural landscape, with even more land devoted to corn monocultures.Looking at these land, water, fertilizer and soil costs together, you could argue that the corn system uses more natural resources than any other agricultural system in America, while providing only modest benefits in food.Although a large monoculture dominating much of the country with a single cropping system might be an efficient and profitable way to grow corn at an industrial scale, there is a price to being so big, with so little diversity.But that’s what we’re doing with American agriculture.Furthermore, it would include conservation tillage and organic farming practices that improve soil conditions by restoring soil structure, organic content and water holding capacity, making farming landscapes much more resilient to floods and droughts.In all, U.S.
crop subsidies to corn totaled roughly $90 billion between 1995 and 2010—not including ethanol subsidies and mandates, which helped drive up the price of corn.We should also consider helping all farmers who suffered losses, not just those growing only certain commodity crops.But the corn system, as we currently know it, is an agricultural juggernaut, consuming more land, more natural resources and more taxpayer dollars than any other farming system in modern U.S. history.And the resulting benefits to our food system are sparse, with the majority of the harvested calories lost to ethanol or animal feedlot production.What would such a system look like?But with the current corn system dominating our use of natural resources and public dollars, while delivering less food and nutrition than other agricultural systems, it’s time ask tough questions and demand better solutions.
About 25 corn varieties are suitable for popcorn.Corn is a tall annual cereal grass (Zea mays) that is widely grown for its large elongated ears of starchy seeds.corn , (Zea mays), also called Indian corn or maize , cereal plant of the grass family ( Poaceae ) and its edible grain .The domesticated crop originated in the Americas and is one of the most widely distributed of the world’s food crops.Types of corn Commercial classifications, based mainly on kernel texture, include dent corn, flint corn, flour corn, sweet corn, and popcorn.Dent corn, primarily grown as animal feed and for food manufacturing, is characterized by a depression in the crown of the kernel caused by unequal drying of the hard and soft starch making up the kernel.Popcorn, an extreme type of flint corn characterized by small hard kernels, is devoid of soft starch, and heating causes the moisture in the cells to expand, making the kernels explode. .
Corn is the main feedstock used for producing ethanol fuel in the United States.Corn ethanol is ethanol produced from corn biomass and is the main source of ethanol fuel in the United States.Corn ethanol is produced by ethanol fermentation and distillation.It is debatable whether the production and use of corn ethanol results in lower greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline.Compared to 2018, out of 14.62 billions of bushels of corn produced, 5.60 billions of bushels were used to produce corn ethanol, reported by the United States Department of Energy.Another serious problem with corn ethanol as a replacement for gasoline, is the engine damage on standard vehicles.Production process [ edit ].Dry milling [ edit ].The vast majority (≈80%) of corn ethanol in the United States is produced by dry milling. In the dry milling process, the entire corn kernel is ground into flour, or "mash," which is then slurried by adding water.Yeast are added, which ferment the sugars into ethanol and carbon dioxide.The corn starch and remaining water can be fermented into ethanol through a similar process as dry milling, dried and sold as modified corn starch, or made into corn syrup.Greenhouse gas emissions [ edit ].Several full life cycle studies have found that corn ethanol reduces well-to-wheel greenhouse gas emissions by up to 50 percent compared to gasoline.One of the main controversies involving corn ethanol production is the necessity for arable cropland to grow the corn for ethanol, which is then not available to grow corn for human or animal consumption. In the United States, 40% of the acreage designated for corn grain is used for corn ethanol production, of which 25% was converted to ethanol after accounting for co-products, leaving only 60% of the crop yield for human or animal consumption.Economic impact of corn ethanol [ edit ]. According to the U.S. Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels Data Center, "The increased ethanol [production] seems to have come from the increase in overall corn production and a small decrease in corn used for animal feed and other residual uses.
Ethanol market is disturbing to American farmers. And now there's
Just two years before, barely out of high school, he’d jumped in a campervan with a handful of other farmers and followed the “tractorcade” to Washington, D.C., joining thousands of others in the American Agriculture Movement who were demanding “parity not charity.” Expenses were high, commodity prices low, and farmers across the country were fighting foreclosure.“The farmers are nervous as cats because they’re afraid that we’re going to stop buying corn,” says Randy Doyle, CEO of ethanol maker Al-Corn Clean Fuel in Claremont, Minnesota.Under the RFS, small refineries can avoid their renewable fuels obligation if they can prove that compliance would cause “disproportionate economic hardship.” Between 2016 and 2018, the EPA granted 85 small-refinery exemptions (SREs), a total of more than four billion ethanol-equivalent gallons of lost demand.Calling it a “bailout bonanza,” the Renewable Fuel Association claims these exemptions have directly resulted in thousands of lost jobs and over a dozen ethanol plant closures.“Rome is burning, while EPA plays Nero’s fiddle,” wrote Geoff Cooper, RFA president, last August.“The industry put in expansion plans starting in 2014-2015,” Irwin explains, because a higher 15 percent blend of ethanol in gasoline had been approved.Some manufacturers have begun converting their operations to create alcohol for hand sanitizer, which is currently in low supply in hospitals and nursing homes across the country.For example, Al-Corn in Minnesota can store up to five million gallons on site, but it takes just a few weeks at full production to hit capacity.According to the latest USDA estimate, 13.4-percent (or 1.89 billion bushels) of last year’s corn harvest is being held at farms or in commercial storage.In light of a fragile ethanol market, Armbrust and other farmers are considering a last-minute shift from corn to soybeans, the country’s second largest crop, for spring planting, but the decision is hardly an easy one.One byproduct of ethanol is distillers grain, which can be used in either a wet or dried form as a high protein livestock feed.Ultimately, it’s difficult to distinguish between the effects of Covid-19 and any other number of adverse conditions threatening farming today.Ideally, Armbrust would like to see the government initiate a supply management program, perhaps idling 10-20 percent of America’s cropland, “just to reset everything,” he says.Correction: The quote from the Renewable Fuels Association was from Geoff Cooper, RFA president, not Ken Colombini, as first reported. .
How Ohio Corn is Used for More Than Food
Reynolds says corn finds its way into countless products consumers use every day.The vast majority of corn acres are planted with field corn, which feeds livestock, fuels vehicles or is processed into other products, like corn syrup for sweeteners.One use is providing motorists with a renewable fuel choice.Most fuel is E-10, which contains a 10 percent ethanol blend.Although a very small percentage of corn is grown for human consumption, it represents many favorites on grocery store shelves.“We don’t make Cheetos, but we make products that are somewhat similar to those types of snack foods out of cornmeal, which is dent corn varieties that have been raised specifically for food purposes,” says Don Mount, vice president of contract manufacturing at Wyandot Inc.“That portion of the corn crop in the United States is so small in comparison to the corn that is used for ethanol or animal feed,” Mount says. .
Ethanol Uses, Benefits, and Chemical Safety Facts
As an additive to cleaning products, ethanol is also used as a preservative because it is effective in knocking out organisms that could pose a danger to consumers.More than 97 percent of U.S. gasoline contains ethanol, typically in a mixture called E10, made up of 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline, to oxygenate the fuel and reduce air pollution.Ethanol has a higher octane number than gasoline, providing premium blending properties, according to the U.S.
Department of Energy. .
Corn Types & Uses – Texas Corn Producers
That’s right, ethanol production does more than produce a clean-burning fuel – it also produces a co-product called distillers grains, which is commonly fed to animals. .
Corn Cob Ethanol: The Fuel of the 21st Century?
But because virtually all ethanol generated for America’s automobiles is corn-based — that is, produced by fermenting the sugars contained in corn kernels — the subsidies have been a boon to the corn industry [pdf].In 2005, spurred by rising oil prices and perceptions that corn ethanol was a renewable, carbon-neutral fuel, America’s love affair with corn ethanol grew.There’s generally a whole lot more cellulose in plants than sugars — compare a corn cob to its kernels.America and Corn Cob Ethanol: The Beginning of a New Love Affair?I mean, who eats corn cobs?Well, it turns out that livestock sometimes do, and interest in stover as an affordable alternative food source has risen with corn prices.Making biofuels from corn cobs slated for livestock feed will affect food supplies as well as land use and greenhouse gas emissions.Ultimately, because biofuels and food both require land to grow, decoupling the two is difficult. .