Some researchers think miscanthus, a relative of sugar cane that looks like bamboo, could be the Midwest’s next big energy crop. But in a region dominated by corn and soybeans, it has yet to fully catch on.
The Renewable Fuel Standard is meant to support ethanol and other renewable fuels. But now, the EPA is proposing that the oil industry take a step back that, some say, throws the future of renewable fuels in doubt.
Ethanol is an up and down industry, and right now it’s down. Ethanol plants in at least 13 states have stopped running over recent months because of higher corn prices and lower demand for the biofuel. The industry is trying to change the equation by putting more of the ethanol in gasoline.
Your local gas station may start to sell E-15, gas made of 15 percent ethanol. But while renewable fuel advocates worked for years to win federal approval for E15, even in in Corn Country the E15 pickings are slim.
Livestock producers watching their feed costs rise with corn prices are putting pressure on the Environmental Protection Agency to curb corn prices by suspending the federal ethanol mandate. The EPA is reviewing the idea and taking public comments, but it is not entirely clear whether suspending the law would actually work the way livestock producers hope.
A Danish company has built an enzyme factory in Blair, Neb., hoping to capitalize on advancements in ethanol. The company doesn't just supply conventional ethanol plants, it has developed some of the most advanced enzymes for deriving ethanol from biomass material.
Ethanol producers have been developing a way to convert biomass, the plant material that is left after harvest, to ethanol for years. Now, Kansas is poised to become the home of one of the first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol refineries in the country.