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Illinois Renewable Fuels Association

[FAQ] What is the net energy balance of ethanol produced from corn in a dry grind ethanol plant?

The University of Illinois-Chicago recently completed a survey of the energy use, technologies, and water use at dry mill corn ethanol plants throughout the U.S.  The latest data shows that:


On average, a dry-mill ethanol plant in 2008


  • Utilizes 25,858 Btu/gallon of thermal energy and .74 KWh of electricity per anhydrous gallon of ethanol for a total of 28,383 Btu/gallon of energy


  • There are approximately 76,000 Btus in a gallon of anhydrous ethanol so therefore the net energy benefit is 2.67 to 1 for a gallon of ethanol.


  • The average dry mill plant in 2008 produces 2.78 gallons of anhydrous ethanol per bushel of corn.


  • The average dry mill ethanol plant consumes only 2.72 gallons of water per anhydrous gallon of ethanol produced and discharges only .46 gallons of water per gallon of ethanol. 


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