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White House Moves to Reduce Use of Ethanol

Biofuel law falling short of expectations – even as criticism grows.

by on Nov.18, 2013

A corn showdown?

It’s been a rare hallmark of bipartisanship in recent years, but the Obama Administration is now looking to scale back the once-promising biofuel law enacted during the Bush White House.

The move recognizes that consumers have shown little interest in filling up on ethanol – even as criticism of the renewable fuel grows, some critics contending the law may actually be doing as much harm as good to the environment.

Fuel Your Knowledge!

The law passed in 2007 has required a steady increase in the use of ethanol – almost all of it currently being produced from corn.  Last year, reports the federal Energy Information Administration, 13.3 billion gallons were blended into the nation’s gasoline supply, slightly ahead of the 13.2 billion gallon mandate. But the sale of E85 fuel, which uses 85% ethanol and just 15% of gasoline, has lagged expectations despite significant discounting at the pump.


Greener Ethanol a Step Closer to a Pump Near You

Nation's largest ethanol supplier has cellulosic pilot plant up and running in South Dakota

by on Feb.09, 2009

poets-projectThe holy grail of renewable fuels is a commercially viable process for converting cellulosic materials into convenient, combustible liquids that can power cars and trucks. The longstanding challenge is breaking down cellulose into smaller molecules that can be re-assembled into ethanol or other fuels.

Cellulose is the stuff of which plants are mostly made, and it’s comprised of a long, tough chains of sugar-like compounds that God created (or nature evolved, if you will) for the express purpose of resisting breakdown.

With their multiple stomachs, cows break down cellulose just fine. The problem is that they (more specifically, the enzymes in their guts) are rather slow about it compared to the rate at which it needs to be digested to supply any meaningful portion of the 160 billion gallons of gasoline we guzzle each year. Those enzymes and the biorefining processes that use them are still quite pricey compared to what it costs to refine petroleum, unless oil gets (and stays) much more expensive than it is today.

Nonetheless, progress is being made. A notable development was recently announced by POET Energy, the nation’s largest ethanol producer. POET has taken its cellulosic ethanol process out of the lab and into a pilot plant now up and running in Scotland, South Dakota, a small town about an hour and a half southwest of Sioux Falls.