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US Ethanol Industry on Pace for 20+% Growth in Annual Production

According to data provided by the Renewable Fuels Association, US ethanol production is currently averaging nearly 4.7 billion gallons a year, a 20.5% increase from the 3.9 billion gallons produced in 2005.

In August, US producers averaged 329,000 barrels per day (bpd)—a record for daily production average and an increase of 69,000 bpd from August 2005. Demand for ethanol remained strong, averaging 385,000 bpd in August, approaching the record demand set back in June. Stocks and imports of ethanol also rose in August to 384.7 million gallons and 133.2 million gallons respectively.

Currently, 106 ethanol biorefineries nationwide have the capacity to produce more than 5 billion gallons annually. There are 48 ethanol refineries and 7 expansions under construction with a combined annual capacity of more than 3.5 billion gallons.

Among recent major plant developments are:

  • E3 BioFuels announced it will begin production in December 2006 at Mead, Nebraska, as the first-ever closed-loop system for distilling commercial quantities of ethanol using methane gas recaptured from cow manure, instead of fossil fuels. This virtually eliminates the need for fossil fuels in the production of ethanol. (Earlier post.)

  • In addition to breaking ground on its 100-million gallon plant in Hereford Texas, Panda Ethanol announced plans for an additional 100-million gallon plants in Lincoln County, Nebraska and Muleshoe, Texas. Panda will fuel its six announced ethanol plants by gasifying cow manure (earlier post)—the Muleshoe plant will use 1 billion pounds of cow manure per year, as an example. On 7 November, Panda went public via a reverse merger with Cirracor.



To what extent does the use of cow manure in the ethanol production process divert that commodity from other uses, such as fertilizer base? To the extent that there is diversion, what substitutes will be used to replace this manure in the previous processes of which it was a part?


That manure should still be good for fertilizing farm fields after the bacteria release carbon dioxide and methane, I don't think they burn the remaining solids.



Take a look at Wikipedia or google “biogas” or “anaerobic digestion”

It is old, well established, yet terribly ignored technology with huge potential.


Yup, the Swedes are exploiting a version of anaerobic digestion of wastes to great effect. If they can get 45% of their CH4 from wet biodegradable waste, then we might have a prototype to base a similar US sewage to methane system on. Organic food is also a growing niche, so the processed manure will find use.


If you visit water treatment plants in the U.S. you might find that they get a lot of methane from the process that is used back in the process. I visited one in Southern California where they had a HUGE NG tank about 5 stories high. No sense letting all that energy go to waste.

Max Reid

If the production is 4.7 billion gallons, then the consumption should be above 5 billion gallons and thats 2.5 % share in the overall Auto Fuel market of 200 billion gallons.

Good achievement. With more Ethanol refieneries coming online, they will capture 5 % soon and keep up a good competition to Oil.

Max Reid

Oil consumption is expected to increase by only 1.1 % this year against 1.5 % last year. This is despite the solid growth in China, India, Russia, US and the rest of the World.

Looks like Ethanol has taken a bit out of Oil while Coal must have taken over the Oil-fired utilities.

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