Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/31/2005
Publication Date: 5/1/2006
Citation: Nichols, N.N., Dien, B.S., Bothast, R.J., Cotta, M.A. 2006. The corn ethanol industry. In: Minteer, S., editor. Alcoholic Fuels. Boca Raton, FL: CRS Press. p. 59-78.
Technical Abstract: Ethanol production is a growing industry in the U.S., where corn is the feedstock used to produce approximately 90% of fuel ethanol. Approximately 1.26 billion bushels of corn, equal to 11% of the total U.S. corn crop, were processed to ethanol in 2004. Globally, the only crop used to produce more ethanol is sugar cane. Approximately 61% of world ethanol production is from sugar crops, with the remainder being made primarily from corn. The success of corn as a feedstock for ethanol production can be directly tied to the huge and sustained improvements in corn yields realized in the U.S.; corn yields per acre have more than doubled since the 1950’s. The opening of coastal markets to ethanol has led to tremendous growth in the domestic ethanol industry, which is expected to reach 5 billion gal/yr by the year 2012. Whether this target of 5 billion gallons will be achieved because of the oxygenate requirements, or be directly mandated as part of a National Energy Bill--which will allow gasoline refiners to trade ethanol credits--is unclear. What appears certain is that the corn ethanol industry can look forward to continued and steady growth. Growth is ensured by the increasingly appreciated advantages of corn ethanol: reduced oil imports, reduced automotive-associated net CO2 emissions, and a stabilized corn market.