Is ethanol the same as E85?
Frequently Asked Questions - Ethanol
No. Ethanol is ethyl-alcohol (95.7% before de-watering) whereas E85 is 85% ethyl-alcohol and 15% unleaded gasoline.
Are there co-products in ethanol production?
Yes, depending upon the process used, there can be several co-products produced such as CO2 and also distillers dried grains with solubles or (DDGS).
What are distillers dried grains (DDG) or even distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS)?
Distiller’s grains are a cereal byproduct of the distillation process. There are two main sources of these grains. The traditional sources were from brewers. More recently, ethanol plants are a growing source. It is created in distilleries by drying mash, and is subsequently sold for a variety of purposes, usually as fodder for livestock (especially ruminants).
Can I sell DDG and DDGS in the marketplace and if so how much does it cost?
Yes you can sell it. You can check here for pricing: http://agebb.missouri.edu/dairy/byprod/bplist.asp
What is the name of the ethanol still product line that Circle sells?
The Circle Ethanol Product Line and Circle Ethanol Plant construction contracts are made to order for the client’s specific needs and capacity and production desires.
What equipment do I need to produce ethanol?
You will need the ability to distill the ethanol (alcohol). You will need storage tanks and a place to store the distillers dried grains and a place for incoming feedstock. You will also need a tank to ferment the feedstock into alcohol.
What types of storage tanks are suitable for ethanol production?
Plastic and stainless steel are the most commonly used tank types for storage of co-products and alcohol.
How large should the storage tanks be in volume?
They should be large enough for one and one-half week’s worth of feedstock and finished ethanol production.
How much storage space do I need?
Please call as this situation can vary based on delivery of feedstock and of finished ethanol production.
How much Carbon Dioxide (CO2) does your plant give off per gallon of alcohol produced?
Our plant will give off one pound of CO2 for every pound of produced ethanol (6.5 pounds per gallon). This is the rule of thumb for ethanol production facilities with respect to CO2 production.
How can I use the CO2 that the ethanol plant gives off so that we do not pollute the environment?
You can purchase one of our algae photo bioreactors and use the CO2 produced to make algae and then turn that algae into biodiesel. This way you are never polluting the environment and every pound of algae you produce is a reduction in global CO2. You can even sell the “carbon credits” that you are given for the sequestration of the CO2 from the environment.
Should I check with my local fire department prior to setting up an ethanol plant?
Yes! Most definitely you should always consult with the local officials before starting a facility.
Do I need any permits to start an ethanol production facility?
Yes, you will need many permits before starting and during the operation of your plant. Please call us for a list of permits you may need to start your facility.
How is ethanol produced?
Ethanol is produced both as a petrochemical, through the hydration of ethylene, and biologically, by fermenting sugars with yeast. Which process is more economical is dependent upon the prevailing prices of petroleum and of grain feed stocks.
What feedstock types can I use for ethanol production?
Various feedstocks such as corn, wheat, barley, rice, waste fruit juices, and even algae, can be used to make ethanol.
How much does it cost to produce a gallon of ethanol?
This will depend on your feedstock choice and your operating costs based on many variables.
Is it legal to make my own ethanol?
You can produce ethanol at your location, to a degree. More information can be found at the governments ATF website.
Where can I acquire the feedstocks, such as algae, sugar and corn, to make ethanol?
Various distributors sell the feedstocks to make ethanol or you could even grow your own.
Will Circle Biodiesel & Ethanol Corporation operate joint ventures with outside groups?
Yes, we are open to joint venture opportunities. Please call Peter Schuh at (760) 579-9885.
What is an octane rating?
The octane rating is a measure of the auto-ignition resistance of gasoline (petrol) and other fuels used in spark-ignition internal combustion engines. It is a measure of anti-detonation of a gasoline or fuel.
What is ethanol?
Ethanol is “ethyl alcohol,” 200-proof grain alcohol. An ethanol plant produces fuel-grade ethanol, and that ethanol is then blended in a percentage with gasoline to make a finished motor fuel. Terminology is important because the term “ethanol” means different things to different people:
- “Ethanol” is the 100% pure ethanol coming from the production facility.
- Sometimes people say “ethanol” and mean the blend of 10% ethanol / 90% gasoline called E10.
- Sometimes people say “ethanol” and mean the blend of 85% ethanol / 15% gasoline called E85.
- Different definitions of “ethanol” can lead to confusion, such as the misunderstandings that “a special vehicle is required to run on ethanol” or that “ethanol is only available at a small portion of the nation’s gas stations.” In these cases, people say “ethanol” but actually mean the alternative fuel E85.
Is it safe to operate an ethanol still on my property?
Yes, but you must be careful. Anytime you are working with a volatile substance, such as ethanol, you will need to exercise caution by remembering the following:
- Do not, under any circumstances, allow young children or pets anywhere near a still in operation.
- Be sure that your tank fittings are properly secured, so that you will have no leakage of ethanol or flammable fumes.
- Always operate your still in a well-ventilated area.
Is making ethanol legal?
According to the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms), it is perfectly legal to own and operate an ethanol still on your property, provided that you are using it ONLY to make fuel and you are not reselling it.
What are the advantages to using ethanol blended fuels?
Ethanol is a renewable fuel, whereas gasoline is a fossil fuel. Ethanol will burn cleaner in your engine. Ethanol use will lower carbon dioxide emissions, ensuring a cleaner environment. Our economies, both local and national, will be less dependent on imported gasoline. There will be more economic opportunities for rural areas, not to mention improved farm incomes.
Will the use of ethanol void my car’s warranty?
No. When the commercial use of ethanol began in 1979, most automobile manufacturers did not even address alcohol fuels. When the major manufacturers tested their vehicles, they approved the use of a 10% ethanol blend. Today, all manufacturers approve the use of 10% ethanol blends, and some even recommend ethanol use for environmental reasons. Many manufacturers do recommend against the use of methanol, which is toxic and should not be confused with ethanol.
Will ethanol burn valves?
Ethanol will not burn valves. Ethanol burns cooler than gasoline and as a result, many high-powered racing engines use pure ethanol for that reason.
Does ethanol usage lead to plugged fuel filters?
Ethanol can loosen contaminants and residues that have been deposited by previous gasoline usage, which can collect in the fuel filter. This problem has happened occasionally in older cars, which often have a lot of residue buildup, and can easily be corrected by changing the fuel filter. Symptoms of a plugged fuel filter will be hesitation, misfiring, and a general loss of power. Once your car’s fuel system is clean, you may note improved performance.
Can ethanol ever be blended at levels more than 10%?
Currently Brazil sells a 22% ethanol blend instead of 10% as a way to extend their petroleum supplies. While most cars manufactured today would operate on 22% ethanol blended with 78% petroleum gasoline, much testing by the auto manufacturers would occur before any new fuel formulation could be approved and covered under their warranties.
How does the use of fuel blended with ethanol benefit the environment?
Gasoline blended with 10% ethanol will reduce carbon monoxide (CO) emissions by up to 30%. Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that contributes to air pollution. It is of particular concern when vehicles are operating at lower temperatures. Oxygenated gasoline, such as ethanol blends, lower the levels of CO emitted, by promoting a more complete combustion of the fuel. Gasoline blended with 10% ethanol will reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) entering the atmosphere between 4 and 7%. Carbon dioxide is a normal product of burning fuels that contribute to global warming. More CO2 is absorbed by crop growth than is released by the production and use of ethanol.
Does ethanol blended fuel burn cleaner than premium gasoline?
Many premium rated gasolines are blended with ethanol. If gasoline contains oxygen it will burn cleaner than a non-ethanol blended gasoline. Premium gasoline is no cleaner than gasoline of a lower octane.
What is the difference between ethanol and methanol?
Both ethanol and methanol are alcohols. Ethanol is fermented alcohol, also used as beverage alcohol, made primarily from grain but may also be made from various sources such as starch or sugar from potatoes, cheese whey, sugar cane, or even from the cellulose in plant material or waste paper. Methanol is usually made from natural gas or coal, and is also known as "wood alcohol". Methanol is highly corrosive, more volatile than ethanol, highly toxic, should not be consumed by humans or animals, and can be damaging to plastic and rubber fuel system components (elastomers).
What are ETBE and MTBE?
Ethyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (ETBE) and Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE) are both high octane, low volatility ethers. They are produced by combining alcohol with isobutylene from oil refineries. MTBE was preferred by major oil companies and has been the largest selling oxygenate in the world while ethanol is second. Recently, MTBE has received a great deal of negative publicity because of water contamination problems in areas where it is used. MTBE has already been banned in California and Iowa and legislation is pending in other states to have it banned as well. ETBE has taken the place of much of the MTBE demand.
Why don’t we use 100% ethanol, instead of a 10% blend?
Most engines need modification to run on pure ethanol and starting the engine would be a problem when it is cold. Fortunately, a 10% level requires no engine modification, yet still provides significant contributions to the reduction of carbon monoxide in the atmosphere.
Does ethanol blended with gasoline require special handling?
In special circumstances yes, the fuel marketer should pump any accumulated water from the storage tank, and add a final filter to the dispensing hose before using an ethanol blend for the first time. Small engines such as chainsaws and outboard motors are susceptible to water contamination, so it is also wise to check them for the presence of water and remove all water before adding an ethanol blend. Adhering to these handling requirements will assure optimum performance of ethanol-blended fuel.
How much ethanol can I get from one ton of wheat?
The average fuel ethanol yield is about 100 gallons (370 liters) per ton of wheat. In addition the process can yield 1/3 of a ton of high protein livestock feed, and about 1/3 of a ton of carbon dioxide for beverage or refrigeration use.
What is the difference between a wet and a dry mill ethanol plant?
The wet mill process soaks the grain kernels until a machine can separate the components. The germ is removed; the starch is removed for industrial or food uses or conversion into sweeteners, degradable plastics, proteins, pharmaceuticals and many other consumer products including ethanol. The remaining protein gluten meal and protein gluten feeds are sold on the protein market. The dry mill process grinds the grain to flour and the entire product goes through the fermentation procedure where the starch is converted to ethanol. After the ethanol is distilled off, the remainder is dried and sold as a protein product called Dried Distillers Grains with solubles (DDGs). There is a greater range of products that can be made in a wet mill than a dry mill, but the cost to build and operate a wet mill plant is much higher.
Can ethanol be made from off-grade or damaged wheat?
Yes, depending on the nature and extent of the damage to the wheat it may still be usable, although the ethanol yield may be reduced and the value of the distiller’s grains may be affected. A lower price paid for the damaged wheat by the ethanol processor may offset the reduced value of the end products.
Is it true that it takes more energy to produce a liter or gallon of ethanol than is contained in that liter or gallon?
No, it is not true. A USDA study determined that 1.34 units of energy is produced for every unit expended in the production of ethanol.
Can ethanol be made from materials other than wheat?
Yes. It is also possible to convert cellulose materials to ethanol. Cellulosic materials, or plants materials, include trees, grasses, wastepaper, crop residues, and even municipal solid waste. Cellulosic ethanol is currently too expensive to compete with grain as a feedstock due to the enzymes necessary to convert the plant materials, but new technologies could make it a commercial reality within a few years. This would mean not only having a greater supply of renewable, clean burning ethanol but would also reduce the amount of waste entering our landfills.
What is cellulosic ethanol?
Cellulosic biomass, dubbed the most abundant material on earth, holds tremendous promise as a feedstock for ethanol production due to its widespread availability and potential for high fuel yields. (Examples of sources for cellulosic ethanol include corn stover (the stalks and husks left over after harvest), wheat and barley straw, sugarcane or rice bagasse, sawdust, paper pulp, small diameter trees, and dedicated energy crops such as switchgrass and other fast-growing grasses.)
How is cellulosic ethanol made?
As with producing ethanol from grain, processing cellulosic sources extracts the fermentable sugars from the feedstock for distillation into alcohol. Unlike in grain, the sugars in cellulose are locked in complex carbohydrates called polysaccharides, or long chains of simple sugars. Separating these complex structures into fermentable sugars is essential to the efficient and economical production of cellulosic ethanol.
Is the ethanol from cellulose and corn the same?
Yes, the ethanol produced from corn or milo and the ethanol produced from cellulose are identical.
What is switchgrass and why is it a good potential source for ethanol?
Switchgrass is one source likely to be tapped for ethanol production because of its potential for high fuel yields, hardiness, and ability to be grown in diverse areas. Switchgrass’ long root system – actually a fifty-fifty split above ground and below – helps keep carbon in the ground, improving soil quality. It is drought-tolerant, grows well even on marginal land, and doesn’t require heavy fertilizing.
How close is cellulosic ethanol to being commercialized?
The technology to create cellulosic ethanol is available today, and is in the early stages of commercialization. Though most of the pieces are in place, the key is to continue to make it more cost-effective and economically competitive. Some estimate the technology is within 5 to 10 years of being fully commercialized.
What is left of the wheat after the ethanol is removed?
Only the starch is removed in ethanol production, so all the protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and some of the caloric energy remains. This product is a very nutritious human or livestock food.
How much will the wheat increase in value after processing into ethanol and DDGs?
When you process wheat to ethanol, the initial value of the wheat might double at current pricing. A $2.00 bushel of wheat could be processed in an ethanol plant to produce about $1.00 worth of feed and about $3.00 worth of fuel.
Are dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGs) available for use by the local livestock farmers?
Yes, they are. Wheat DDGs are high in protein and will be sold for feeding poultry, cattle and even hogs for example. Any excess supply could be exported.
Will my vehicle run on ethanol-blended fuel?
All vehicles are “ethanol-capable” and can use a blend of up to 10% ethanol. This “E10” is a blend of 10% ethanol / 90% unleaded gasoline and is the most common way ethanol is sold to motorists. Since the 1980s, all automakers have covered the use of up to 10% ethanol under warranty, and no engine modifications are necessary to use E10. E10 is a cleaner burning fuel than straight gasoline.
Can ethanol blends be used in small engines, such as boats, lawnmowers, or chainsaws?
Yes. Manufacturers of small engines understand that a 10% blend of ethanol is very common in today’s gasoline, so they make their engines compatible with this fuel.
What is E85? How do I know if my vehicle can use it?
E85 is not gasoline, but rather an alternative fuel comprised of 85% ethanol / 15% unleaded gasoline for use in Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFVs). These vehicle owners have a choice whether to use E85 (or any blend of ethanol up to that 85% level) or straight unleaded gasoline. On some vehicle models this ability to use various fuel blends comes as an option, and on some it is a standard feature. To identify whether a vehicle is “flexible fuel”, check the owners manual and inside the gas cap. Also, there is a complete list of FFVs, including the new ’07 model year vehicles, at www.ethanol.org/e85.html.
Can my vehicle run on E85 even if it’s not an FFV?
If your vehicle is not an FFV, use of any higher ethanol percentage than 10% is not covered by warranty. People have reported that they blend higher percentages of ethanol in regular, unmodified vehicles. A pilot study conducted earlier this year suggests that up to 30% ethanol could be used in a non-flex fuel vehicle, but more research is required on this subject.
Can I convert my vehicle to use E85?
In theory, it is possible; in reality, it is difficult to be able to make the converted vehicle pass emission standards, therefore making the operation of that car illegal according to the EPA.
What is the ethanol “subsidy”?
Many are misinformed that ethanol producers receive a huge government subsidy. That is a myth. In fact, ethanol’s “subsidy” is really a federal tax credit that goes to oil companies as an incentive to blend ethanol with gasoline. This blender’s tax credit totals 51 cents per gallon of ethanol or 5.1 cents per gallon on E10 blends. This benefit is a lower tax which not only serves as an incentive for oil companies to blend ethanol with gasoline, but it also enables ethanol to compete with gasoline, even if it is higher priced. The benefit to petroleum marketers is that they can offer a higher-quality, higher-octane fuel containing ethanol at a competitive price. The benefit to taxpayers is that this tax credit is usually passed all the way back to the consumer in the form of lower pump prices for higher octane ethanol enriched fuel.
How many bushels of corn are needed for a typical ethanol plant?
An “average” ethanol plant today might be able to produce 50 million gallons of ethanol annually. A plant this size would require approximately 18 million bushels of corn.
How many gallons are in a barrel of oil / ethanol?
One barrel equals 42 gallons, whether you’re talking oil or ethanol.
What is ethanol’s “net energy balance”?
“Net energy balance” is a term used to describe how much energy is needed to produce a product versus how much energy that product provides. The latest USDA figures show that ethanol made from the drymill process provides at least 77% more energy as a fuel than the process it takes to make it. It takes about 35,000 BTUs (British Thermal Units) of energy to create a gallon of ethanol, and that gallon of ethanol contains at least 77,000 BTUs of energy.