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EIA: US fuel ethanol production capacity continues to increase

Fuel ethanol production capacity in the United States reached more than 16 billion gallons per year, or 1.06 million barrels per day (b/d), at the beginning of 2018, according to EIA’s most recent US Fuel Ethanol Plant Production Capacity report.


Total listed, or nameplate capacity, of operable ethanol plants increased by 5%—more than 700 million gallons per year—between January 2017 and January 2018.

Part of the increase in nameplate fuel ethanol production capacity in the most recent report is the result of EIA’s outreach to survey respondents that were operating at levels higher than their listed production capacities, which had resulted in utilization rates higher than 100%.

In previous surveys, these respondents reported the facilities’ original design capacity values and may not have accounted for expansions and modifications at the plants.

This year, some respondents increased their nameplate production capacity values to be consistent with EIA’s definition. The remaining increase in production capacity was a result of plant improvements and process modifications such as equipment upgrades, plant expansions, improved maintenance routines, and installation of new equipment at some facilities.

Most of the US fuel ethanol production capacity is located in the Midwest region (PADD 2). Total nameplate capacity in the Midwest was 14.8 billion gallons per year at the beginning of 2018 (967,000 b/d), an increase of 5%—more than 650 million gallons per year—between January 2017 and January 2018. Of the top 13 fuel ethanol-producing states, 12 are located in the Midwest. The top three states—Iowa, Nebraska, and Illinois—contain more than half of the nation’s total ethanol production capacity.

Actual US production of fuel ethanol reached a total of 15.8 billion gallons (1.03 million b/d) in 2017. In EIA’s June Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), US production of fuel ethanol was forecast to reach 15.9 billion gallons (1.04 million b/d) in 2018, resulting in 98% utilization of reported nameplate capacity as of 1 January 2018.



We need more E85 stations, there are 5 million vehicles that don't use it because it is not available.


E85 is not particularly attractive most places; the fuel economy penalty fails to overcome the lower per-gallon price.


"Gasoline distribution contracts in the United States generally have provisions that make offering E85 difficult, expensive, or even impossible. "

There are less than 2% of the stations offering it. It is not the price/mileage it is the lack of availability.


There's a place not far from me that offers it.  I've calculated the per-mile cost given the mileage penalty.  It's cheaper to burn petroleum.

My current daily driver only takes E10, maybe E15.  But it also takes electricity, which gets a lot more out of a cubic foot of natural gas into the electric plant than an E85 vehicle gets out of the ethanol plant.


They price E85 to be on par with regular gasoline, many would use it but it is not available. Chevron/Exxon and others will not let the stations carry it. Many late model Focus and F150 are flex fuel, but most use regular.


Burning any chemicals in the air cretes their side-issues. A current problem in Brazil, which offers alternative fuels almost at every station, ..."specific to ethanol-fuel is the aldehydes or other carcinogenic components in exhaust. Peak formaldehyde concentration"...higher than in any other location. There just isn't any alternative for creating clean electricity and using it to power electric vehicles.

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