(413e) Environmental Releases In the Fuel Ethanol Industry



Corn ethanol is the largest produced alternate biofuel in the United States. More than 13 billion gallons of ethanol were produced in 2010. The projected corn ethanol production is 15 billion gallons by 2015. With increased production of ethanol, the environmental releases from ethanol industry are going to increase.

The common studies with fuel ethanol plants typically report criteria air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions. This prompted the need to evaluate the hazardous air pollutants released from ethanol plants and an overview of these studies will be presented in this paper.

This research shows a relative comparison of toxic releases in the United States, and particular to the corn-ethanol industry. Data is collected from the TRI reporting database and compiled for emissions for the toxic chemicals. Ethanol is produced industrially by two processes, wet milling, and dry grinding. In the wet milling process, there is a range of products pertaining to the food and feed industry other than ethanol. In the dry grind process, the products are ethanol and distillers grains with solubles. The processes produce ammonia, acetaldehyde, formaldehyde, acrolein, etc. as toxic releases. These releases are reported to the TRI database, and the releases for the ethanol industry are worth studying for the environmental effects and trends for future plants.

The present work attempts to capture these trends and present them for further evaluation.