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Theoretical Ethanol Yield Calculator

Have a biomass feedstock in mind? Calculate its theoretical ethanol yield. If you have a potential feedstock for biomass ethanol production and know the dry mass percentage of the material that is sugar components, it is relatively easy to calculate the theoretical yield of ethanol from that feedstock.

From the Biomass Feedstock Composition and Property Database, other data source, or your own research, determine the dry matter weight fraction of polymeric sugars. Insert them in the calculator below to get an approximation of the theoretical yield in gallons per dry ton of feedstock. Be sure to keep in mind that this is theoretical yield. Depending on feedstock and process, actual yield could be anywhere from 60% to 90% of theoretical. Achieving high yield may be costly, however, so lower yield processes may often be more cost effective.

Theoretical Ethanol Yield Calculator

Enter C6 weight percentages (for example, 37 not .37):
Enter C5 weight percentages:


[adds lines 1,2, and 3 above]

[multiplies line 6 by 172.82*]

[adds lines 4 and 5 above]

[multiplies line 8 by 176.87*]

[adds lines 7 and 9]


*conversion factor derivation:
(1.11 pounds of C6 sugar/pound of polymeric sugar or 1.136 pounds of C5 sugar/pound of C5 polymeric sugar) x (.51 pounds of ethanol/pound of sugar) x (2000 pounds of ethanol/ton of C6 (or C5) polymeric sugar) x (**1 gallon of ethanol/6.55 pounds of ethanol) x (1/100%)
**specific gravity of ethanol at 20ºC

Theoretical yields per dry ton for some commonly considered biomass feedstocks include:

Feedstock Theoretical Yield in gallons per dry ton of feedstock
Corn Grain 124.4
Corn Stover 113.0
Rice Straw 109.9
Cotton Gin Trash 56.8
Forest Thinnings 81.5
Hardwood Sawdust 100.8
Bagasse 111.5
Mixed Paper 116.2

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Content Last Updated: 05/28/2009