U. of Illinois-Chicago Study: 30 Percent Reduction in Energy Needed to Produce Today’s Ethanol

WASHINGTON, DC – The amount of energy needed to produce a gallon of ethanol has decreased by an average of 30 percent within the past decade, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Illinois-Chicago’s Energy Resources Center.

“This study underscores what America’s ethanol supporters have known all along — today’s ethanol plants are cleaner and more efficient than ever and production processes are constantly improving with the adoption of new technologies,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy. “These tremendous efficiency gains are a testament to the strong industry-wide commitment to sustainable ethanol production.”

Researchers surveyed the nation’s 150 “dry mill” ethanol plants which produce approximately 85 percent of the nation’s ethanol for energy use and received 90 responses accounting for 66 percent of annual U.S. ethanol production. Survey data found that plants use 28 percent less thermal energy — mostly natural gas, but some coal, biomass and landfill gas — and 32 percent less electricity to turn corn into ethanol. The savings are largely due to the use of more efficient equipment at new plants and energy efficiency retrofits at older facilities.

“Ethanol represents American’s best renewable fuel, affordable and reliable now, to help grow our economy, increase our energy independence and green our environment,” Buis added. “We hope these findings will cause policymakers and consumers alike to take another look at today’s ethanol.”

The findings are published online in the May 15 issue of Biotechnology Letters.


About Growth Energy
Growth Energy is a group committed to the promise of agriculture and growing America’s economy through cleaner, greener energy. Growth Energy members recognize America needs a new ethanol approach. Through smart policy reform and a proactive grassroots campaign, Growth Energy promotes reducing greenhouse gas emissions, expanding the use of ethanol in gasoline, decreasing our dependence on foreign oil, and creating American jobs at home. More information can be found at GrowthEnergy.org.