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Ethanol Production

All in on Ethanol

You keep hearing all about ethanol. How it’s a good thing for consumers and farmers. How it’s a homegrown fuel that helps the state and national economies. How it’s cleaner burning and better for the environment. 

But how is it that a fuel made from corn grown in Iowa could be all that amazing? What makes ethanol so darn great? 

At Iowa Corn, we think about it as the four E’s of ethanol: economy, environment, energy security and engine performance. 

Good for the Economy

53 percent or 1.3 billion bushels of Iowa corn goes to ethanol production. A third of these bushels (or 335 million bushels) are turned into a co-product called DDGs, which is a high protein, valuable livestock feed. 39 percent of Iowa’s corn crop is used for ethanol fuel. The renewable fuels industry (including biodiesel) supports around 42,000 jobs in Iowa and accounts for $4.7 billion of Iowa’s GDP. Ethanol is good for Iowa all right. Learn more.

Good for the Environment

Mother Nature is all about ethanol. The 15.3 billion gallons of ethanol used 2016 reduced greenhouse gas emissions by a whopping 43.5 million metric tons. That’s like removing 9.3 million cars from the road. Plus, ethanol production requires less water than gasoline, by a three to one margin. Not only does Mother Nature love ethanol, our lungs love it too. Motor vehicle emissions are a major source of harmful airborne pollutants causing lung disease and other health issues. Ethanol blends are proven to reduce those emissions creating a better environment for you and me. Our partnership with the American Lung Association helps make Clean Air for Iowa a priority. 

Good for Energy Security

Without 15.3 billion gallons of domestic ethanol produced in the U.S. in 2016, the United States’ net import dependence would have stood at 33 percent instead of 25 percent. Said another way, the ethanol produced in 2016 displaced an amount of gasoline refined from 540 million barrels of crude oil. Take that, foreign oil! 

Good for Engine Performance

Over the past decade, INDYCAR and NASCAR drivers have logged millions of miles racing on E85 and E15. That's because higher blends of ethanol provide a great source of octane for a vehicle's engine. In fact, pure ethanol has an octane rating of 113! So if you're looking for some homegrown, clean burning power for you engine, fill up like the pros and use E15 or E85. 


When we talk about ethanol, we can’t forget that all of that corn that goes into an ethanol plant doesn’t just come out as fuel but 1/3 of the corn comes back out as DDGS. What are DDGS? If you ask a cow, it’s the best tasting feed ever! DDGS are distillers grains with solubles. But, ethanol plants can sell them dried or wet and can feed them locally or export them around the world. Ethanol plants use every part of the kernel that enters the plant so the starch becomes ethanol fuel and the protein becomes distillers grains to feed livestock. 

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