Ethanol Use in US and Brazil Rises Sharply

 

Ethanol powered car

In Europe, not so much…

Brazil, which has to a large degree lead the ethanol charge because of its ability to use sugar cane for ethanol production rather than corn, now relies on the biofuel for 16% of its energy needs. This puts ethanol at #2 in Brazil for largest energy sources, right ahead of hydroelectric, which accounts for 14.7% of electricity production. Both of these sources, however, are behind petroleum, which is the largest energy producer in Brazil.

In the US, on the other hand, ethanol still does not play such a prominent role, even though 23.7% of the annual corn crop is going to create biofuels. The market share that ethanol commands in the US will likely only increase, especially as new technologies allow for the production of cellulosic ethanol and sources other than corn come into vogue.

Even though ethanol seems to be one of the waves of the future, this year production was actually down in Europe, even though that loss in production was made up for by imports from ethanol-rich Brazil. Globally, ethanol only contributed 1.3% to oil consumption in 2007, but that share does appear to be rising rapidly, especially as US politicians push ethanol subsidies and Brazil continues to ramp up production in order to satisfy world demand.

Posts Related to Ethanol and the Food vs. Fuel Debate:

Source: agra

Image credit: Jeffrey Beall under Creative Commons





About the Author

Benjamin Jones is a student of Dartmouth College and co-founder of EcoModder.com and writer at CollegeVegan.com. He is double majoring in Japanese and Linguistics, and is most interested in Sociolinguistics and Anthropology in Japan.
  • And food prices skyrocket, as well as third world countries starving.

    Yeah…a great alternative.

  • And food prices skyrocket, as well as third world countries starving.

    Yeah…a great alternative.

  • And food prices skyrocket, as well as third world countries starving.

    Yeah…a great alternative.

  • jimbino

    And a lot of Brazilians are starting to use LNG as well, as soon as they get the car retrofitted with hoses and a tank and a modern gas station appears in their neighborhood.

  • jimbino

    And a lot of Brazilians are starting to use LNG as well, as soon as they get the car retrofitted with hoses and a tank and a modern gas station appears in their neighborhood.

  • jimbino

    And a lot of Brazilians are starting to use LNG as well, as soon as they get the car retrofitted with hoses and a tank and a modern gas station appears in their neighborhood.

  • jimbino

    And a lot of Brazilians are starting to use LNG as well, as soon as they get the car retrofitted with hoses and a tank and a modern gas station appears in their neighborhood.

  • don

    nuts

  • don

    nuts

  • don

    nuts

  • Hey, ethanol is bad, look it up. It causes build up of extra nutrients and depletes oxygen from the oceans and kills lives like that. The nutrients such as phosphorous and nitrogen destroy the water. Also, you have to burn 120 gallons of oil to come up with 129 gallons of ethanol. 120 Gallons, that’s a big deal, and it’s definitely not ecological. It’s worse!

  • AH

    What a terrible thing. With a constant or near-constant supply of corn, increasing use of biofuels will only raise the price of corn as a food. Yeah, you’re “doing your part” to save the environment… whoop de doo. How many people will starve or suffer from undernourishment due to your self-congratulating?

  • AH

    What a terrible thing. With a constant or near-constant supply of corn, increasing use of biofuels will only raise the price of corn as a food. Yeah, you’re “doing your part” to save the environment… whoop de doo. How many people will starve or suffer from undernourishment due to your self-congratulating?

  • Realitybites

    Yeah this was a good idea on paper. Corn ethanol is not just making food cost rise it’s also making gas prices rise. Think about it….Isn’t ethanol supposed to make gas prices go down? It’s Grown! Brazil got it right sugar is the way to go, do the research. L8R

  • Realitybites

    Yeah this was a good idea on paper. Corn ethanol is not just making food cost rise it’s also making gas prices rise. Think about it….Isn’t ethanol supposed to make gas prices go down? It’s Grown! Brazil got it right sugar is the way to go, do the research. L8R

  • brian

    sad news. how can we stop it?

  • brian

    sad news. how can we stop it?

  • The link between corn used for ethanol and food prices is not as clear as people would like to think. The mainstream media has done a pretty terrible job reporting on the complexity of this issue. Using food crops for fuel is not a great idea, but before jumping to conclusions, take a look at the related posts above to learn more about what’s going on…

  • The link between corn used for ethanol and food prices is not as clear as people would like to think. The mainstream media has done a pretty terrible job reporting on the complexity of this issue. Using food crops for fuel is not a great idea, but before jumping to conclusions, take a look at the related posts above to learn more about what’s going on…

  • Eric

    If you buy ethanol fuel in the USA you are hurting the economy, the environment, and yourself. There is no sustainable system of ethanol production from CORN. Only about 90% of the energy used to make the ethanol is even recovered from the ethanol. Sugar ethanol, like that in brazil, is 3 times more effective. Biodiesel from algae is far and away the best energy solution for our future.

  • Eric

    If you buy ethanol fuel in the USA you are hurting the economy, the environment, and yourself. There is no sustainable system of ethanol production from CORN. Only about 90% of the energy used to make the ethanol is even recovered from the ethanol. Sugar ethanol, like that in brazil, is 3 times more effective. Biodiesel from algae is far and away the best energy solution for our future.

  • TassieTexas

    Ethanol is a farce. It is the result of lobbiest for American farmers and does not save energy. It does in fact cause more greenhouse emissions to produce than it saves and it will ultimately contribute to higher feed stock cost and higher food cost at the market.

    It is time that the ethics of government be questioned when their policies are self serving short term irresponsibility.

  • TassieTexas

    Ethanol is a farce. It is the result of lobbiest for American farmers and does not save energy. It does in fact cause more greenhouse emissions to produce than it saves and it will ultimately contribute to higher feed stock cost and higher food cost at the market.

    It is time that the ethics of government be questioned when their policies are self serving short term irresponsibility.

  • Will

    If you would like to clear up much of the myths surrounding biofuels I suggest reading this point counter point betweeen Dr. David Pimentel, and Dr. Bruce E. Dale, both prominent leaders in the biofuel debate.

    http://pubs.acs.org/cen/coverstory/85/8551cover.html

  • I know that 3 oz of actone per 10 gallons of gasoline gives maximum mileage boost, is 10% the maximum for ethanol?

  • Will

    If you would like to clear up much of the myths surrounding biofuels I suggest reading this point counter point betweeen Dr. David Pimentel, and Dr. Bruce E. Dale, both prominent leaders in the biofuel debate.

    http://pubs.acs.org/cen/coverstory/85/8551cover.html

  • I know that 3 oz of actone per 10 gallons of gasoline gives maximum mileage boost, is 10% the maximum for ethanol?

  • Pingback: » ethyl alcohol use inside United States with Brasil Rises Sharply yanns()

  • Ethyl Unleaded

    Ethanol is not evil, ethanol is merely alcohol, men have been making it with the help of yeast for at least 5,000 years. The egyptians brewed beer and the world did not end.There will always be hungry people in this world as long as there are people in this world, to blame ethanol is to have a rather simplistic view. Ethanol to be sure can be made from better things than corn, but corn is being used for whiskey, beer, soft drinks animal feed and pelletized for use in heating stoves, shall we attack every use of corn that isn’t for human food? Fix the broken governments, that can’t make sure everyone knows how to grow their own food, clean the water, fix the soil, it will do more good than blaming corn from half a world away.

  • Ethyl Unleaded

    Ethanol is not evil, ethanol is merely alcohol, men have been making it with the help of yeast for at least 5,000 years. The egyptians brewed beer and the world did not end.There will always be hungry people in this world as long as there are people in this world, to blame ethanol is to have a rather simplistic view. Ethanol to be sure can be made from better things than corn, but corn is being used for whiskey, beer, soft drinks animal feed and pelletized for use in heating stoves, shall we attack every use of corn that isn’t for human food? Fix the broken governments, that can’t make sure everyone knows how to grow their own food, clean the water, fix the soil, it will do more good than blaming corn from half a world away.

  • I used to think ethanol was a fraud, but, …

    The process of growing next year’s (preferably sugar or cellulose) crop for ethanol, through photosynthesis,

    takes carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, storing it in both the product to make ethanol out of, and the roots of the plant grown (though soil organisms decompose the left-over roots into some carbon dioxide again) and it’s reabsorbed by the following year’s crop for ethanol

    for ethanol!

    For debunking of ethanol myths, visit:

    http://www.alcoholcanbeagas.com

  • ian

    sugar is the only way to make ethanol 99% of the product grown and it wont affect food costs .you can use the sugar cane to produce the fuels to drive your tractor,you can use the sugar cane to drive your power station to extract the ethanol,you can use the bi, products to feed stock,you can use the last residue to make paper. and on the lighter side use all the sugar to produce ethanol and reduce our reliance on petroleum based product will reduce obesity iand tooth decay in our up and coming children of the world And all i say is get rid of the monopolies and let your local farmers make the money to invest in your country and keep the profits where they belong not in a lot of coporate offices

  • ian

    sugar is the only way to make ethanol 99% of the product grown and it wont affect food costs .you can use the sugar cane to produce the fuels to drive your tractor,you can use the sugar cane to drive your power station to extract the ethanol,you can use the bi, products to feed stock,you can use the last residue to make paper. and on the lighter side use all the sugar to produce ethanol and reduce our reliance on petroleum based product will reduce obesity iand tooth decay in our up and coming children of the world And all i say is get rid of the monopolies and let your local farmers make the money to invest in your country and keep the profits where they belong not in a lot of coporate offices

  • Thomas

    Wow…you guys are being brainwashed by the oil companies influence… I grew up in Brazil … and for over 30 years, people have been using Ethanol (from sugar cane) to fuel their cars there – Every gas station there have gas and ethanol – Car engines have ‘flex’ technology which allows for any type of fuel, or even a mix of them – So if one day you’re going to work, and gas is too much, put alchool, and vice-versa – The oil companies try to block any information coming from Brazil regarding the use o ethanol there – How many people here knew that brazil used ethanol for so many years? …Ya, I thought so..

    I do agree that CORN Ethanol might have a few problems because of it’s ratio of its amount of corn per amount of alchool. And also because corn itself it’s a very consumed food item.

    I believe the solution is for the developed countries to buy ethanol from sugar cane, from developing countries like Brazil, and african countries. This way we get our ethanol, food prices do not go up, and as a plus, we would help poor countries with more jobs in the ‘sugar and alchool’ industry segment.

    One problem thou… currently, brazilian ethanol exporters face a 50% tarrif when exporting into the US …yes, 50% … well, that’s to protect the corn ethanol producers …but again, if we end up going with another solution (like hydrogen, etc), the corn e. producers would be in trouble anyways…

  • Thomas

    Wow…you guys are being brainwashed by the oil companies influence… I grew up in Brazil … and for over 30 years, people have been using Ethanol (from sugar cane) to fuel their cars there – Every gas station there have gas and ethanol – Car engines have ‘flex’ technology which allows for any type of fuel, or even a mix of them – So if one day you’re going to work, and gas is too much, put alchool, and vice-versa – The oil companies try to block any information coming from Brazil regarding the use o ethanol there – How many people here knew that brazil used ethanol for so many years? …Ya, I thought so..

    I do agree that CORN Ethanol might have a few problems because of it’s ratio of its amount of corn per amount of alchool. And also because corn itself it’s a very consumed food item.

    I believe the solution is for the developed countries to buy ethanol from sugar cane, from developing countries like Brazil, and african countries. This way we get our ethanol, food prices do not go up, and as a plus, we would help poor countries with more jobs in the ‘sugar and alchool’ industry segment.

    One problem thou… currently, brazilian ethanol exporters face a 50% tarrif when exporting into the US …yes, 50% … well, that’s to protect the corn ethanol producers …but again, if we end up going with another solution (like hydrogen, etc), the corn e. producers would be in trouble anyways…

  • bruce

    stop the law on importing ethenol john mc cvain can do it we can have our suvs back gm ford chrsler can stop firing and hirind the unions will vote 4 mc cain and wont have a chicargo gangster comunist presedent im a jweish guy from ny tat will vote 4 john

  • bruce

    stop the law on importing ethenol john mc cvain can do it we can have our suvs back gm ford chrsler can stop firing and hirind the unions will vote 4 mc cain and wont have a chicargo gangster comunist presedent im a jweish guy from ny tat will vote 4 john

  • bruce

    bull crap we need it from brazil corn closing car factories 2 expensive from corn from brazil everone goes back 2 work only hurt the arabs and the sock monkey

  • bruce

    bull crap we need it from brazil corn closing car factories 2 expensive from corn from brazil everone goes back 2 work only hurt the arabs and the sock monkey

  • Thomas

    Please make use of punctuation… Can’t understand what you’re saying…

  • Thomas

    Please make use of punctuation… Can’t understand what you’re saying…

  • Uncle B

    Ethanol, George Bush supported it, it has to be flawed! Ask any high school physics teacher, turning hemp oil or algae oil into bio-diesel is more efficient. I know America is addicted to gasoline cars, but European Turbo-diesels, particularly those from BMW and VW, offer much higher return in miles per gallon of fuel than gasoline or gasoline/ethanol engines. Diesels use higher compression ratios, hence get more out of their fuel than bloodsucking, oil crisis causing, short-lived spark ignition low compression engines – just by their design – its BETTER America – BETTER! Check it out and buy diesel to wash away high oil prices.

    P.S. Your refiners are f**king you up the ass on diesel fuel, it is cheaper to refine and there is more of it in a barrel of oil, before cracking it to gasoline, an expensive and wasteful process, since, yield in miles traveled for the diesel fuel are much higher than for the cracked gas. How’s your wallet area feel now?

  • Uncle B

    Ethanol, George Bush supported it, it has to be flawed! Ask any high school physics teacher, turning hemp oil or algae oil into bio-diesel is more efficient. I know America is addicted to gasoline cars, but European Turbo-diesels, particularly those from BMW and VW, offer much higher return in miles per gallon of fuel than gasoline or gasoline/ethanol engines. Diesels use higher compression ratios, hence get more out of their fuel than bloodsucking, oil crisis causing, short-lived spark ignition low compression engines – just by their design – its BETTER America – BETTER! Check it out and buy diesel to wash away high oil prices.

    P.S. Your refiners are f**king you up the ass on diesel fuel, it is cheaper to refine and there is more of it in a barrel of oil, before cracking it to gasoline, an expensive and wasteful process, since, yield in miles traveled for the diesel fuel are much higher than for the cracked gas. How’s your wallet area feel now?

  • Max Peck

    Lower energy content per gallon ( 84,000 Btu per gallon for ethanol vs. gasoline which contains about 115,000 Btu’s per gallon) means we have to devote even more crop grains to equal equivalent power. Food prices soon will reach luxury item status…no thanks.

    A hydrogen based economy is the way to go, not carbon based. Without a radical shift away from the hydrocarbon based energy scenario, we will have painted ourselves into a corner.

  • Max Peck

    Lower energy content per gallon ( 84,000 Btu per gallon for ethanol vs. gasoline which contains about 115,000 Btu’s per gallon) means we have to devote even more crop grains to equal equivalent power. Food prices soon will reach luxury item status…no thanks.

    A hydrogen based economy is the way to go, not carbon based. Without a radical shift away from the hydrocarbon based energy scenario, we will have painted ourselves into a corner.

  • Thomas

    Not sure Hydrogen based is the best option…

    Just a quick sequence to show the energy being ‘transformed’:

    (Electric car): (Solar/wind/hydroelectric/etc) -> Electricity

    (Hydrogen car): (Solar/wind/hydroelectric/etc) -> Electricity -> (+water) -> Hydrogen

    seems that Electric car is the ‘best’ option…

    Regarding the source of electricity:

    (Hydro-electric): Sun -> Water in higher altitudes (potential energy) -> Electricity

    (Coal): Coal -> water vapor -> electricity

    (Nuclear): Atomic energy -> Heat/water vapor -> electricity

    (Solar): sun -> Electricity

    (Wind): sun (+earth movement) -> wind -> Electricity

    This one is actually arguble … Solar is the ‘shortest’ path… but atomic is extremelly efficient. Some are cleaner, some are not…

    But basically, there are only two ‘types’:

    -One originates from energy stored in elements (radiation, molecules), as for Radioactive materials, coal, gas, diesel, ethanol, etc – which are ‘limited’ – unless the process that created them in the first place happens again. (i.e: Ethanol: plant needs nutrients + sun light in order to create sugar, which is then used to create alcohol…)

    -The other one is from the sun, which is a constant source of energy, and does not require our intervention in order to create it.

    So Solar power would be my pick, and electricity the energy format used (for convinience purposes…)

  • Thomas

    Not sure Hydrogen based is the best option…

    Just a quick sequence to show the energy being ‘transformed’:

    (Electric car): (Solar/wind/hydroelectric/etc) -> Electricity

    (Hydrogen car): (Solar/wind/hydroelectric/etc) -> Electricity -> (+water) -> Hydrogen

    seems that Electric car is the ‘best’ option…

    Regarding the source of electricity:

    (Hydro-electric): Sun -> Water in higher altitudes (potential energy) -> Electricity

    (Coal): Coal -> water vapor -> electricity

    (Nuclear): Atomic energy -> Heat/water vapor -> electricity

    (Solar): sun -> Electricity

    (Wind): sun (+earth movement) -> wind -> Electricity

    This one is actually arguble … Solar is the ‘shortest’ path… but atomic is extremelly efficient. Some are cleaner, some are not…

    But basically, there are only two ‘types’:

    -One originates from energy stored in elements (radiation, molecules), as for Radioactive materials, coal, gas, diesel, ethanol, etc – which are ‘limited’ – unless the process that created them in the first place happens again. (i.e: Ethanol: plant needs nutrients + sun light in order to create sugar, which is then used to create alcohol…)

    -The other one is from the sun, which is a constant source of energy, and does not require our intervention in order to create it.

    So Solar power would be my pick, and electricity the energy format used (for convinience purposes…)

  • Rob

    I agree that the jury is still out on whether or not corn is the best way to produce ethanol. I tend to think it hurts more than helps. With that in mind I do think ethanol is possibly a large part of the answer. Instead of corn based ethanol use cellulose based ethanol. There is much research going into the use of hybrid poplar trees for this purpose. They will very soon be able to extract about 1,000 gallons per acre per year using this tree. This is far better than even sugar cane and it can be grown on sub marginal lands not suitable for food crops. Here is the link for that:

    http://news.uns.purdue.edu/html4ever/2006/060823.Chapple.poplar.html

    And perhaps an even better solution research a guy named Stan Meyer and his water car. This is NOT electrolosis.

  • Rob

    I agree that the jury is still out on whether or not corn is the best way to produce ethanol. I tend to think it hurts more than helps. With that in mind I do think ethanol is possibly a large part of the answer. Instead of corn based ethanol use cellulose based ethanol. There is much research going into the use of hybrid poplar trees for this purpose. They will very soon be able to extract about 1,000 gallons per acre per year using this tree. This is far better than even sugar cane and it can be grown on sub marginal lands not suitable for food crops. Here is the link for that:

    http://news.uns.purdue.edu/html4ever/2006/060823.Chapple.poplar.html

    And perhaps an even better solution research a guy named Stan Meyer and his water car. This is NOT electrolosis.

  • Ricardo

    Hey, your data is wrong!!!

    Hydroelectric power accounts for 90% of the electricity production in Brazil.

    Additionally, Brazil have Itaipu, the largest Hydro plant in the world in energy generation. 24% of the electric energy of the country comes from this plant.

    http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/Americas/Brazil-ENERGY-AND-POWER.html

  • Ricardo

    Hey, your data is wrong!!!

    Hydroelectric power accounts for 90% of the electricity production in Brazil.

    Additionally, Brazil have Itaipu, the largest Hydro plant in the world in energy generation. 24% of the electric energy of the country comes from this plant.

    http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/Americas/Brazil-ENERGY-AND-POWER.html