One of the most promising sources of alternative energy is ethanol. The ethanol industry — which has grown over 240% since 1980 — is proof that green initiatives can go hand-in-hand with a thriving economy.
Ethanol is produced by fermenting the starch or sugar portion of corn and distilling it into alcohol, which is then added to gasoline to make usable motor fuel. In 2005, 14% of the nation’s corn supply was used to produce ethanol. Ethanol packs a double benefit by significantly reducing reliance on imported oil, and creating a cleaner burning fuel. The US Department of Energy reports that ethanol-blended fuels reduced CO2 greenhouse gas emissions by 7.8 million tons in 2005 – that’s equivalent to the annual gas emissions of over one million cars.
Greater Ohio (GO) Ethanol was formed to meet the growing demand for ethanol, created in large part by the banning of MTBE (methyl tertiary-butyl ether). MTBE is a fuel additive formerly mandated by the US government which has recently been linked to ground water contamination and cancer. SSOE has partnered with GO Ethanol to provide engineering for four new ethanol production facilities, including one in Lima, Ohio. This plant will convert 20 million bushels of corn into 54 million gallons of ethanol annually. “We will be online in 12-13 months from final financing approval,” notes senior project manager, Dan Vining. “Significant work has been completed on the site already and engineering work is well underway.” Even the plant’s main by-products -water and distillers dried grains and solubles – are environmentally friendly (see the orange panel on the left and click on Alternative Fuel Facts & Figures).