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

November 24, 2004

Ethanol Fuel Industry on Building Spree in the Midwest

Photo of an ethanol production plant

An ethanol fuel plant in Nebraska.
Credit: Chris Standlee

A growth in demand and favorable new tax credits appear to have accelerated the U.S. ethanol fuel industry. Since October, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) has announced the start of construction on new ethanol plants in Illinois, Iowa, and Kansas, plus two plants under construction in Minnesota. In addition, Texas will soon host its first ethanol plant, as Panhandle Energies is building a plant in Dumas (in far northern Texas) capable of producing 30 million gallons per year. Ethanol plants are also expanding, as a plant in Wisconsin is doubling its capacity and another in Iowa is nearly doubling its capacity as well. With construction recently completed on a plant in Iowa, the industry now has 82 operating plants capable of producing nearly 3.5 billion gallons of ethanol each year. The 16 plants now under construction will be able to produce another 750 million gallons of ethanol each year. Given the growth in the industry, its no surprise that ethanol production in September set another record, and total ethanol production in 2004 is expected to top 3.35 billion gallons, a 19 percent growth over 2003. See the RFA press releases.

The ethanol industry may receive another boost from the Broin Companies, an ethanol producer that claims to have developed a new process for producing ethanol. The "Broin Project X" (BPX) process eliminates a cooking step, saving energy while significantly decreasing plant emissions, according to the company. Novozymes, a developer of starch conversion enzymes for the ethanol industry, helped Broin develop the process, which Broin is now using at three of its ethanol plants. The company has applied for a patent and intends to license the process to other ethanol plants. See the Broin press release (PDF 68 KB). Download Acrobat Reader.

While the ethanol fuel industry is looking to increase ethanol's use in gasoline blends, the Gas Technology Institute (GTI) is already looking at how ethanol might power tomorrow's fuel cell vehicles. GTI recently announced that it was able to convert ethanol into hydrogen using its two-step steam-reforming process. See the GTI press releases.