U.S. Department of Agriculture analysts are out with their crop price predictions, and the numbers aren’t too favorable. From now until 2027, they’re looking for, “…crop prices to be pretty much what they are now.” USDA price projection coordinator David Stallings says he expects corn prices to average in the $3.30 to $3.60 range. Building demand is key to corn farmer profitability, and that’s our bottom line here at IL Corn. To building the domestic market for ethanol, IL Corn is a key player engaged with automobile manufacturers, corn industry groups, and the ethanol interests in the Ag-Auto-Ethanol (AAE) Work Group. AAE evolved out of conversations between corn and ethanol producer groups, agribusiness partners, automobile manufacturers, infrastructure providers, and technical and academic experts on ways future fuels and engines could work in tandem to meet the 2017 and later model year light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas emission and corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards.
• What are the goals/objectives of the Ag Auto Ethanol Working Group?
The AAE Work Group’s overarching goal is to accelerate the transition of transportation fuels to higher-octane/lower-carbon (HOLC) blends for use in the North American light duty vehicle fleet. The AAE Work Group functions as a platform for developing strategies and action plans to accomplish this goal.
• What progress has been made developing and deploying the infrastructure to dispense high octane/low carbon fuels?
The gasoline infrastructure in the United States is on track to support nation-wide deployment of mid-level blends of ethanol as a replacement for conventional gasoline. No other alternative fuel is close. 100% of Wayne Fueling Systems Ovation and Helix pumps produced since 2017 are certified to dispense E25 fuel blends. Underwriters Laboratory has completed a rigorous testing program on UL87-A pumps from the primary manufacturers in the United States and found them to be capable of handling ethanol fuel blends up to E40; a higher certification of the UL87-A dispenser is pending.
• How would the new high compression engines compare to those on the road today?
By increasing the compression ratios of engines and optimizing them to run on HOLC fuels, automobile manufacturers can increase vehicle efficiency and reduce emissions. DOE’s national labs have confirmed that these new engines operating on mid-level blend ethanol fuels could achieve, depending on the octane level, 5-10% improvement in vehicle efficiency with even larger reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
• What are the achievements of AAE?
Working together, AAE partners have demonstrated the economic, environmental and public health benefits that mid-level ethanol blend transportation fuels can provide. Despite all the hype around the coming of electric vehicles, the internal combustion engine will be in service for decades to come, and HOLC fuels will be a valuable tool used by the autos to demonstrate compliance with government efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction standards.
• How does AAE impact Illinois corn farmers?
The introduction of HOLC liquid transportation fuels into North America will expand ethanol markets for Illinois corn farmers. Analyses have shown that with a 50% adoption rate of E25 in new vehicles with high compression engines, ethanol usage in 2030 and beyond could increase as much as 5 billion gallons.