EXPOSING 5 COMMON MYTHS ABOUT ETHANOL

Tricia Braid

Mar, 11, 2015  |  Today's News

Here’s some good information for you to keep in your back pocket, as they say. As ethanol detractors continue to make their false claims, you’re probably asked a lot of questions. Here at IL Corn we put together this information on the 5 most common myths about ethanol. If you’d like, we can send you the coordinating brochures. We also have a table top display on this topic that can be borrowed from our office for local events.

IT TAKES MORE ENERGY TO MAKE ETHANOL THAN IT PROVIDES.

Ethanol plants improve their efficiencies every day. Being environmentally aware is the right thing to do. Corn ethanol actually provides 300% more energy that it takes to make it. If you count all the way back to the time when the corn seed was planted, you still get 150% more energy than what goes in.

MAKING ETHANOL USES UP SO MUCH WATER, WAY MORE THAN GASOLINE!

Nearly all industrial processes use water, including ethanol production. Ethanol, per gallon, uses less water than the process needed to refine petroleum into gasoline. Ethanol producers recycle that water, as it makes them more efficient and environmentally friendly. Most ethanol now uses less than three gallons of water to make each gallon of ethanol; your Sunday newspaper guzzles 150 gallons of water!

IT TAKES OTHER KINDS OF ENERGY TO MAKE ETHANOL, SO IT’S NOT A GREEN FUEL.

Energy is neither made nor destroyed, it just changes form. Regardless of the source of energy on the output end of things, there is some sort of energy on the input side. For the sake of being technical, it’s proven that it takes about 28,000 BTUs to make a gallon of ethanol, regardless of whether those BTUs come from electricity, natural gas, or burning corn stalks. Just imagine a field full of corn plants, with all the leaves acting like solar panels, soaking up the sun’s energy, changing its form, and depositing it in the corn kernel. That corn kernel is then distilled into corn ethanol. Ethanol in your fuel tank is like being powered by sunshine!

ETHANOL IN OUR GAS TANKS IS LIKE BURNING FOOD, AND PEOPLE ARE STARVING.

First, don’t be confused that the type of corn used for ethanol is the same as “veggie” corn, or corn on the cob, or frozen or even canned corn. Ethanol comes from field corn, most often used for livestock feed. In addition, it is important to remember that the process of making ethanol only uses the starch part of the corn kernel. The protein part of the kernel is left over and is still available to use as a highly valuable, non-wasteful livestock feed. From each bushel (about 56 pounds) of corn, the ethanol plant produces 2.8 gallons of ethanol and 17.5 pounds of the protein for livestock feed. So, in a year's time, the U.S. ethanol industry provides enough corn-based livestock feed to make seven, quarter-pound hamburgers for every person on the planet, or make a chicken breast for every American to eat every day for a year!

I FUELED UP WITH ETHANOL FOR THE FIRST TIME THE OTHER DAY, AND IT RUINED MY CAR!

Ethanol has been blended into the U.S. gasoline supply since the 1970’s. The U.S. EPA has determined that ethanol up to a 10% blend is safe in all vehicles, and model years 2001 and newer can use up to 15% ethanol with no problems. In Flex Fuel Vehicles (you have an FFV if your gas cap is yellow), any blend of ethanol up to 85% is fine. Plus, if Sunoco Green E15, a 15% ethanol blend race fuel, is good enough for NASCAR, then ethanol blends should be good enough for your car. NASCAR has driven some 7 million miles on E15 with no problems!