The Propulsion of Ethanol Production in the USA
Ethanol: What is it?
Ethanol is one of the most vital industrial chemical compounds. It is a simple alcohol with the chemical formula C2H6O.. By nature, it is a flammable and hazardous chemical. It appears to be colourless and has a distinct temperate odour. Ethanol production takes place via the fermentation of sugars (employing yeast) or by turning to petrochemical procedures.
Ethanol finds application in a wide array of medical applications, including antiseptic and disinfectant. The chemical is often used as a chemical solvent in the production of natural blends or scientific chemical testing. It is also a crucial substance in applications related to industrial production processes. Moreover, ethanol is used as an alternate fuel source.
In the automotive sector, it is used to preserve gasoline and likewise preserves the intoxicating agent in many alcoholic drinks like wine, beer, and distilled spirits.
Ethanol’s production depends on the kind of feedstock used. The process is simpler and quicker with starch- or sugar-based feedstocks compared to cellulosic feedstocks.
Starch and Sugar-Based Ethanol Production
In the United States, the majority of ethanol is produced using starch-based crops employing dry- or wet-mill processing. Around 90% of ethanol production plants are dry mills owing to lesser capital costs. The dry-milling process involves corn that is ground to make flour, and it is further fermented to form ethanol with the distiller’s grains and carbon dioxide as by-products.
The Wet-mill plants mainly produce corn sweeteners paired with ethanol and other co-products (like starch and corn oil). Wet mills split protein, starch, and fibre present in corn before these components are processed into products like ethanol.
Ethanol production using cellulosic feedstocks like residues of wood, grass, and crops is a more elaborated process compared to the use of starch-based crops. There are two main methods that are employed for producing cellulosic ethanol: thermochemical and biochemical.
In the thermochemical conversion process, chemicals and heat are added to a biomass feedstock. In order to make syngas, a mix of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. Syngas is combined with a catalyst and transformed into ethanol as well as other liquid co-products.
In the biochemical process, pre-treatment takes place for releasing hemicellulose sugars which are followed by hydrolysis in order to break down the cellulose into sugars. These sugars later get fermented forming ethanol, and lignin is retrieved and used in the production of energy which powers the process.
E10 (Ethanol and Gasoline Mix) Production
Almost all the sales of motor gasoline in the United States account for 10% ethanol by volume, and gasoline with a volume of 10% ethanol is called E10. E10 can be used by any gasoline-powered vehicle in the United States. Vehicles models of 2002 and newer vehicles, including light trucks, cars, and medium-duty vehicles, can use E15. Only flexible-fuel vehicles are able to use gasoline that includes an ethanol content exceeding 15%. E85, the fuel comprising 51%–83% ethanol based on season and location, is primarily sold in the Midwest and only has use in a flexible-fuel vehicle.
Gasoline that is ethanol-free—E0 might be obtainable in specific locations across the country for use in landscaping equipment, boats, and gasoline-powered tools, along with other equipment having gasoline engines that must use E0.
Ethanol Distribution Across the United States
The majority of ethanol plants in the U.S. are consolidated in the Midwest, but the consumption of gasoline is highest along the West and East Coasts. As per the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 90% of ethanol is moved via a train or truck, and the leftover 10% gets transported via barge, with minimum quantities transported by pipeline. In 2019, the consumption of ethanol in the United States was nearly 14.6 billion gallons; a tanker truck is able to carry 8,000 to 10,000 gallons of ethanol, and one rail car carries around 30,000 gallons of ethanol.
Ethanol delivery via pipeline is the most efficient choice; however, its affinity with water, along with solvent properties, demands the usage of a reliable pipeline or major cleanup of existing pipelines in order to restore them into dedicated pipelines.
Leading Manufacturers of Ethanol in The United States
- Archer Daniels Midland Company manufactures a wide range of products, from foods and beverages to fuels and chemicals like ethanol. The company was established in 1905 and is situated in Chicago, Illinois.
- Bunge Ltd., headquartered in White Plains, New York, was established in 2002; the corporation specialises in making raw agricultural commodities and similar products such as ethanol.
- Pharmco Aaper Products, based in Brookfield, Connecticut, was started in 1985; it manufactures pure and denatured ethanol and sterile solvents along with high-purity chemicals for end-user industries like biotechnology and pharmaceutical etc.
- Corn, LP, based in Goldfield, Iowa, produces ethanol for fueling and commercial applications. It was established in 2005.
- A Henderson, Colorado-based company, Birko Corp., founded in 1946, manufactures food safety equipment, including ethanol.
- ExxonMobil, founded in 1882, is a chemical manufacturer for the industrial and plastics industries, such as ethanol. Through their Irving, Texas headquarters, they serve the automotive, aviation, marine, and commercial vehicle industries.
Ethanol is a vital ingredient in several end-user industries, which makes its procurement crucial for companies. Therefore, picking the right supplier that offers the best prices is important. For carrying out this task understanding the market complexities and procurement strategies is necessary.
At Procurement Resource, our leading industry experts can help your business with the sourcing of Ethanol and other essential chemicals. With through industrial reports, cost analysis, pre-feasibility reports, and whatnot, our experts leave no stone unturned in concreting the steps towards better procurement and viable processes.