This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

August 07, 2002

Ethanol Production Increases; USDA Confirms Energy Benefit

The U.S. ethanol industry continues to boom, with record production in June—up 13 percent from June 2001—and lots of new capacity coming online. In the last week of July and the first week of August, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) announced the completion of two major ethanol plant expansions and one new plant, totaling 67 million gallons per year in new production capacity. The new farmer-owned Adkins Energy plant in Illinois has the capacity to produce 40 million gallons of ethanol per year and includes a co-generation facility to produce steam and electricity for the plant. See the RFA press releases.

Meanwhile, Philips Petroleum Company has stopped blending MTBE in the gasoline it sells through its 1,500 stations under the "76" brand in California, with the exception of some racing gasoline sold in limited locations. The company continues to provide a small amount of MTBE-blended gasoline to independent gasoline stations. The move makes the "76" brand the first large gasoline retailer selling only ethanol-blended gasoline in the state. See the Philips Petroleum press release.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) also has good news for the ethanol industry: a new USDA study found that ethanol produces 34 percent more energy than is used in growing and harvesting the corn and distilling it into ethanol. Going against claims that ethanol production consumes more energy than it produces, the report concludes that the net energy value of corn ethanol has become positive in recent years due to technological advances in ethanol conversion and increased efficiency in farm production. See the USDA press release.

DOE continues to develop technologies that will boost the energy yield of ethanol from corn and other feedstocks. DOE's "Bridge to the Corn Ethanol Industry" initiative aims to expand the number of feedstocks used, including making use of corn waste products (called "corn stover"). See the initiative Web site.